Zi­dane ‘head­but­ting’ statue given the red card in Qatar

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

watch­ing from the side­lines as his team lost on penal­ties. Now, seven years later, his mo­ment of mad­ness has again caused a pub­lic outcry – this time in Qatar, of all places.

A 5m bronze statue of Zi­dane head­but­ting Mat­er­azzi has been re­moved from the pop­u­lar Cor­niche in the cap­i­tal city of Doha. The statue, which over­looked the water­front, had been cre­ated by Al­ge­rian-born French artist Adel Ab­dessemed last year and named Coup de Tete – “head­butt” in English.

While the name is self­ex­plana­tory, some lo­cals found it more dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand the rea­son­ing be­hind the statue be­ing put on dis­play in Doha, with the Ara­bic hash­tag “Zi­dane’s statue in Qatar” trig­ger­ing sar­cas­tic re­ac­tions on Twit­ter. One Tweet read “Con­grat­u­la­tions for hav­ing new idols”, while another posted “It is sad that our youth see in this art and moder­nity.

“Our chil­dren do not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the right and the wrong, or the haraam (pro­hib­ited) and the halaal (per­mis­si­ble).”

The statue had proved an at­trac­tion for many tourists and ex­pa­tri­ate work­ers, though, who flocked to see and take pic­ture of it.

The statue had been in Doha for just over a month be­fore be­ing re­moved from the Cor­niche, with the Qatar Mu­se­ums Au­thor­ity (QMA) hav­ing flown it in from the Pom­pi­dou Cen­tre in Paris.

It will re­main in Qatar, but at a less vis­i­ble lo­ca­tion, with Mathaf: The Mu­seum of Mod­ern Arab Art its new home.

Mathaf is but one of Qatar’s mu­se­ums. The wealthy Gulf state also houses the flag­ship Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art; the Ori­en­tal­ist Mu­seum; and the Katara Art Gallery, with a new Na­tional Mu­seum of Qatar be­ing built for a De­cem­ber 2014 open­ing.

In­deed, Qatar has been on an am­bi­tious drive to es­tab­lish it­self as a cen­tre of cul­ture in the Gulf and in­ter­na­tion­ally, buy­ing sig­nif­i­cant pieces of art from around the world, with the QMA at the fore­front of the mis­sion. Their strat­egy seems to be work­ing – QMA head Sheikha Mayassa bint Ha­mad Al Thani, the sis­ter of the Emir of Qatar, was re­cently named the most in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in the art world in an an­nual “Power 100” list pub­lished by Bri­tain’s ArtRe­view mag­a­zine.

The mag­a­zine re­ported that Sheikha Mayassa has about $1 bil­lion (R10bn) a year to spend on art – 30 times more than New York’s renowned Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art.

“No won­der, then, that when­ever Sheikha Mayassa is in town, ev­ery­one from gov­ern­ment min­is­ters to may­ors queue up to pay their re­spects,” the mag­a­zine noted.

Qatar’s bur­geon­ing sta­tus in the art world is re­flected in its abil­ity to at­tract the likes of iconic Bri­tish artist Damien Hirst to the coun­try, with his highly re­garded Relics ex­hi­bi­tion, the largest col­lec­tion of his work yet as­sem­bled.

The ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores the re­la­tion­ship be­tween art, love, life, and death. Emo­tive sub­ject mat­ter, for sure, but it’s un­likely to cre­ate as much of a stir as the statue of Zi­dane head­but­ting Mat­er­azzi. Un­for­tu­nately for the French­man, that act of in­dis­ci­pline has re­sulted in another red card.

● Fol­low Bawa on Twit­ter @rid­waan­bawa

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