"Even the monkey [that is paraded] on the streets of Cairo has one day off a week!" exclaimed an exasperated colleague out here in Doha.
I had gone to ask him to translate the writing along the bottom of a Polaroid picture that I had found in an abandoned building close to where I live, but received a tirade about his consultancy contract that doesn’t allow for vacation time, meaning he can’t return to Egypt in the immediate future.
The boxes and the makeshift stall captured in the Polaroid [bottom right of the four above] looked like something that could be found in our collection, so I was curious to know what the arabic text meant. The picture was of an illegal stall, explained my colleague, that was operating in front of a shop named ‘…Sulaity Store’, only 5 mins walk from the MAC. ”We can go, but what, right now? It is 45 degree heat and you want to go there now?” he asked in disbelief, practically shaking his head.
He deduced that the picture must have been taken at the time of the call to prayer, as this explains why the items of the stall are packed up and the storeholder is absent, and was about to launch into a long explanation of the rise of crime in Doha, saying that before one could leave a stall like this unmanned and nothing would be taken. “Qataris no! Never!” he emphasised, meaning there was no stealing before the influx of the migrant workers.
I was meant to be in a weekly catch-up meeting so had to run, but went without obtaining a word for word translation of the text. I assume that the writing describes the stall and gives a location, but I’ll have to check with a different arabic speaker for a more precise, if less interesting, translation.
Site worker’s art/english project, Week II
Participants were asked to draw memory maps of their home towns, houses and families, with spectacular results.
Site workers’ art project
We are running a 5-week arts/english language collaborative project at the MAC with thirteen workers from the site. Leading the project is artist Vreni Michelini Castillo, from Guanajuato, Mexico, who is currently artist in residence at VCUQ. The first session had introductions, a discussion around the found objects, and much talk about the workers’ home countries, which were mainly Nepal and India.
Participants were asked to draw quick sketches to show their favourite food, a person they like, where they would like to visit, and a dream they have. Beautiful responses.