Gallery in Bab Al-Yemen [Archives:1998/17/Culture]

April 27 1998

The Bab Yemen has now been organized into an art gallery and information center on the inside since its official opening last month. Many of the tourists are amazed when they see that there is actually a space between the walls of the gate and that it can be exploited productively. Speaking with Mazer Nizar the organizer of the gallery and himself an artist, I learned more of his aims in utilizing the inside space of the door this way.
It was decided to divide the internal space of the door so that part of it can be used for informational purposes and the rest for exhibitions, mostly from contemporary Yemeni artists. The gate is immediately bordered by two towers. As the pedestrian comes in from the new city; there is a news agent shop on the left which sells souvenirs and stationery and on the first floor above that is a space for contemporary art. The tower on the other side of the gate has an information center on the ground floor and space for modern paintings on the floor above. Access to these towers and the adjacent corridors can be reached via an entrance to the left of the opposite tower bordering the gate, while inside the old city. There is a walkway which leads up and over the main gate connecting the first tower and information center with the tower on the other side. A tourist can then enjoy the view of the old city as he walks within the gallery.
When asked about the future of contemporary art in Yemen, Nizar referred to the Bab as a productive means to utilize space for the tourist and artist, a tourist can come to the Bab and while looking at the maps of city to get oriented can also get a sampling of Yemeni art. ” In many cities around the world one way to make old monuments and landmarks like the Bab useful is to make it pay for itself. Since this has been the focal point for the local as well as the tourist, there is no better reason than to use the location for cultural as well as informative purposes,” he said.
The towers obviously were not constructed with a gallery in mind, however if one uses the space well then it can be subdivided: an area can be used to show the old city, another, prints taken of the monument before restoration, while yet another aerial views of the city’s artistic models of houses, and contemporary art pieces. Many of the tourists questions about the city can be answered here.
Martin Dansky / Yemen Times