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How art gets generated.

The “Spider Woman” Comes to Doha

Louise Bourgeois'  Spider

Louise Bourgeois’ Spider

They call her the “Spider Woman” for good reason.

With her gigantic spider sculptures towering in heights ranging from three to 12 meters tall, Louise Bourgeois constantly makes a statement. Her spiders, lovingly titled “Maman” for “mother,” were a loving and endearing, albeit unusual, take on how she viewed her own mother: a weaver, a nurturer, a crafty and clever caretaker of the hearth and home—very much like the nature of a spider. Legendary for her provocative and often times controversial representations, Louise Bourgeois was a pioneer in redefining what art was and what it could mean for different people. No matter what you thought of her work, or how uncomfortable it may have made you, there were a few indisputable facts: she was a revolutionary, she was a genius, and she was here in the Middle East.

As part of their ongoing national efforts and initiatives to raise global arts and culture awareness in Qatar, the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) decided to kick off their 2012 exhibition series with Louise Bourgeois as their flagship showcase of the year.

The renowned French artist, infamous for her giant spiders, her unconventional approach to art, and her surreal, often dark, vision of beauty, love, and truth, was slated to be in Doha for the grand opening of her exhibition, what would be her first in the Middle East. Having handpicked Qatar to make her regional debut, Louise Bourgeois decided it was time to make her mark in this part of the world. Although the artist passed away a year before the chance to see her dreams take shape in Doha, QMA, the Louise Bourgeois Trust, and Landor partnered to make her vision come alive and to do her memory justice. The exhibition titled, “Conscious and Unconscious,” became a personal effort for all us and was in essence our salute to the late artist who entrusted us with bringing her work to life.

Landor was commissioned to develop the look and feel of the various exhibition collateral, all its marketing materials, and event promotions. Designing everything from custom VIP invitations, to postcards, banners, billboards, and giant wall graphics, Landor’s biggest challenge was presenting an elegant Louise Bourgeois-inspired identity that did not scare away or alienate visitors. We wanted to properly portray the art, the emotion, and the love that went into each of the artist’s pieces.

Considering the main subjects of her work were portrayed as enormous black widow spiders the size of elephants, this was no small feat.

Our investigative team, which me and design director Luma Shihabeldin led (and which was comprised of designers, client services, and even our receptionist!) discovered that there was more to Louise Bourgeois than meets the eye. “LB” as we began to call her, was a complex, layered personality, and we were going to take the same approach to our design. We decided we would do with our work exactly what she did with hers: take something nonconventional, misunderstood, and even borderline scary, and transform it into something beautiful. We took it upon ourselves to do what we do best: go above and beyond the call of duty.

Weeks of crazed frenzy finally paid off, and on January 19, 300 VIPs gathered to celebrate the life and work of Louise Bourgeois at the QMA Gallery.

Between the huge spider at the National Gallery in Doha, and the “smaller” spiders placed around Katara Cultural Village, guests and visitors had plenty to talk about.

To coincide with the exhibition, Landor rolled out an ad campaign to maximize the impact and the outreach of LB’s presence in Doha, hoping to highlight the softer aspects of her work. The campaign titled, “Reality Echoed in the Surreal,” summed up perfectly what Louise Bourgeois tried to mirror in her work and what we hoped to pay tribute to in our own: that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that art wasn’t respected necessarily by how “pretty” or “comfortable” or “conventional” it was, but rather by how effectively it evokes emotion from its audience.

By Zabin Ahmed, Client Manager, Landor Dubai, http://www.landor.com.  August 2, 2012.  For the full article, please visit: http://landor.com/#!/talk/blog/the-“spider-woman”-comes-to-doha/

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