by #ameje18 caar delegate sarah hill
Ammar Alqamash is an artist with an immense passion for photography. He co-founded the PhoneArt Qatar art initiative in 2016 as way to encourage people in his community to create art using their mobile phones. In the process, they’re documenting the different sides of Doha and how the city is changing.
As part PhoneArt, Ammar invites people in the community to go on a weekly photo walk with him around Doha. He asks them to take photos with their mobile phones and he posts them on the pa.qatar Instagram account.
Ammar explains that he focused on mobile phones as the medium for art because it was accessible to everyone.
“Everyone now has their own smart phone in their pocket and we saw PhoneArt Qatar as a good opportunity to encourage everyone, and to ask them to look at their mobile phones in a different way”, he says.
“As a way of producing art, a way to express themselves, a way to produce ideas”.
The photo walks are not targeted towards professional photographers but to everyone in the broader community.
Each week there is a new theme for the photo walk. Sometimes it is a conceptual theme and other times it’s a focus on a specific photographic technique.
PhoneArt Qatar provides an opportunity for people to be social and creative but it also serves another purpose: to document the rapidly changing city.
“We’ve started documenting the old areas … and not only the old areas but also the new areas. It’s a documentation of the real time, now. Because in the future, this is going to be the past,” Ammar says.
Ammar explains that when he first pursued his passion for art, he tried all forms of art but photography “got into his heart the most”.
When he first started photography, he showed people his photos and they were shocked that it was photographed on a mobile phone. This inspired him to share mobile art with others in the community.
“What if everyone does the same thing, what if they try it and they love it, and they become, themselves, photographers?” he remembers thinking.
Ammar deliberately set up the PhoneArt initiative as a system that could be used in other communities. He hopes that with new mobile phone technologies, and through PhoneArt, there will be more creative communities and a wider network of people documenting places in all parts of the world.
“We have the gift, and if everyone starts to enjoy this, and starts to expand this project, I would be the happiest. Because in the future we are going to have enough content, and that will be good for the next generations.”
PhoneArtQatar has expanded their initial Instagram account to also include a website, a magazine publication, and they’ve recently held two exhibitions.
Hear more from Ammar Alqamash in this extended interview:
Produced as part of the #AMEJE18 study tour, with thanks to our partners: the Australian Government through the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the Changing Lives Program; Qatar Airways; the University of Canberra; the University of Adelaide; and the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Canberra