We asked special guests to choose a student whose work must be highlighted, whose talents they want to share with the world and whose names we’ll all soon know in Qatar.
Discover the pick of Isabelle St-Louis, Head of Exhibitions and Collections Management at M7.
A Constructed Memoir: The History and Heritage of the Baloch Community in Qatar
In the 1960s, when my father was only thirteen years old, he undertook a perilous journey on a boat alone from Sistan via Balochistan, Iran, to Qatar, in the hopes of a better life. My father, like many long-term residents from Balochistan, has lived in this country for decades, predating the establishment of the modern state of Qatar itself, in 1971. His legal position in the country today is still subject to the Kafala system, his residency subject to his employment status, having to be renewed each year. Permanency is never guaranteed, nor is future planning.
In 1984, my father was mandated to move to Al Baluche Camp, then, a hidden place on the outskirts of Doha. Reinforcing this permanent-temporariness, the contract stated that residents of the camp were permitted to use only three materials (plywood, construction-grade lumber, and corrugated metal sheet) to build their houses, which were officially designated as “temporary”.
Thirty-eight years later, the some -15,000 residents of the camp are now facing permanent displacement from their camp—their only home—according to a new official mandate. My work highlights the plight of this misunderstood and marginalized community in the country, uncovering the permanent-temporariness and hiddenness of the Baluchis in Qatar, through the construction of a series of symbol-laden cabinets, relying on the same three basic materials used to build our “temporary” homes.
Main Advisor: Yasmeen Suleiman
Associate Advisor: Stella Colaleo
Reader: Jacqulyn Williams
Her educational background includes a second cycle university diploma in Arts Management from HEC Montreal, Canada. She obtained a MicroMaster degree in Design Thinking from Rochester Institute of Technology, USA, in 2021.
About the Selected Project: 'A Constructed Memoir: The History and Heritage of the Baloch Community in Qatar'
In the words of Lebanese-American artist, poet and author Etel Adnan: “The world needs togetherness, not separation. Love, not suspicion. A common future, not isolation.”
Steffi Ann Braganza
Faculty: Rab McClure, Director Robert Bianchi, Marco Bruno, Stella Colaleo, Reema Abu Hassan, Giovanni Innella, Hadeer Omar, Yasmeen Suleiman and Michael Wirtz
Rab McClure, Department Director
First is a large embroidered trunk on wheels, which cracks open like a geode to reveal unexpected treasures within. Inside, three small cabinets gently cradle a collection of prized possessions. Unpacked and hung on the wall, one cabinet displays a cassette deck (portable, of course); 42 beloved cassette tapes; and a framed photograph of the family matriarch. A second contains legal documents. A third holds kitchen tools and jars of all sizes, filled with the spices used to nourish the designer’s large, close-knit family. The trunk, with its cabinets removed, has shelves for bed linens, a rod upon which to hang clothes, and angled shelves for storing and organizing shoes. Altogether, the work creates order from uncertainty, poise during instability and dignity in the face of adversity.