QatarDebate and Qatar Museums host a public debate about public art and its role in societies and cultures
Doha, March 8, 2021 – Qatar Museums in cooperation with the Qatar Debate Center, a member of the Qatar Foundation, recently organized a debate on public art and its role in the development of culture and thought in society, attended by more than 100 community members.
Two teams of high school students debated the topic: This house believes that public art must be compatible with country’s culture? The debate featured the participation of: Moza Al-Hajri, Dana Al-Darwish, and Muhammad Hamzah Al-Sioufi as the proposition team, and Ammar Yasser Muhammad Karkur, Abdullah Hamza Muhammad Sha’ar, and Rahaf Khalid Abu Tarbush, as the opposition team.
The proposition team argued that art’s role was a historical one. As per the team’s argument, art documents events that affect people’s lives, and it additionally contributes to constructing society’s culture when artists document new events using modern methods. The opposition team conversely argued that art was a means of expression, and its restriction meant limiting the freedom of expression, a human right guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The team further stated that public art led to the development of the thought and culture of society by introducing different ideas and cultures to it.
On one hand, the proposition team explained that human were emotional beings affected by the stories and emotions surrounding them in their environment, so it is their right to express the changes that occur around them through art. On the other hand, the opposition team indicated that art expressed society and shaped its culture. As per the opposition team, art may change society for the better, as it sparks discussions that lead to education and development.
The opposition team further said that the absence of a single, agreed upon culture in any country implied the presence of ethnic and cultural pluralism in that country. The team additionally stressed that art should enhance harmony between the components of society. It is unsound to prevent components of society from expressing themselves through art, because marginalizing these groups leads to chronicling this society’s history in an incomplete way, the negative team argued.
In contrast, the proposition team said that art compatible with the local culture contributed to anthropological studies, whereas the incompatibility between public art and the country’s culture caused an imbalance in this natural sequence.
During the debate, held in Arabic via Zoom, community members voted on the question: Should Public Art be Compatible with a Country’s Culture? Majority of the audience agreed with the proposition team in this debate.
Architect Abdulrahman Ahmad Al-Ishaq, Director of Public Art, Qatar Museums, said, “We were pleased at Qatar Museums to receive so many attendees in this debate, held in cooperation with QatarDebate Center. Qatar Museums is working to enhance the sense of national participation in important cultural dialogue, and to inspire future generations to take an interest in the arts and contribute to Qatar’s thriving art scene. This debate falls within the framework of the campaign to protect public art from vandalism. The campaign was launched last year to raise awareness on the protection of public art and to encourage society to share in the responsibility to protect the nation’s cultural asset.”
Mr. Abdulrahman Al-Subaie, Head of Outreach Programs QatarDebate Center, emphasized: “The importance of debate and public discussion of general issues that meet the aspirations of young people and allow them to employ their promising energies by providing the appropriate atmosphere to explore the potentials within them.
QatarDebate Center provides programs and events for all state institutions that ensure positive impact on the ideas of young people and their creativity in research, discussion, and analysis that enables them to be open to different world views.
To watch the recorded debate, please visit the official channel of the QatarDebate Center via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TwJNI4IJSE&t=972s