Richard Serra, the American sculpture artist who planted four steel monoliths in the Qatari Desert, has seen his sculpture suffer “significant and deliberate” vandalism.
The work, called East-West/West-East and completed in 2014, tower 50-foot in the air and remain the largest lasting example of any of the 81-year-old’s works. “This is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. It’s a piece that I’d really like to be seen,” the artists said upon its unveiling.
However, as tourists flock to the Brouq desert reserve in the Gulf country’s far northwest via 4×4 transport, the names of visitors have been carved into Serra’s work in a usual act of vandalism which has seriously damaged the creation.
Now, it has been confirmed that the work will need to undergo a “specialised cleaning process” after “significant and deliberate damage caused by visitors to the sculpture in recent months”, Qatar Museums said in a statement.
“Vandalism of any kind to our public art, not only affects the community’s enjoyment of the piece but also harms Qatar’s cultural heritage,” Abdullatif Al Jasmi, the director of cultural heritage protection at Qatar Museums, confirmed in a statement. “It is important that people understand the social impact of the damage to the artworks but also that they can receive substantial fines and may be responsible for restoration.”
Qatar Museum’s head of public art, Abdulrahman al-Ishaq, added: “Public art is a national asset that we as citizens and residents can be proud of. “We call upon the community to help us ensure that all public artworks are cared for and protected, preserving them for the enjoyment of current and future generations. Our public art is a fundamental part of Qatar’s cultural life, benefiting the nation and its people, both socially and economically.”