77 Tacos

collaboration with Sebastian Maria Betancur Montoya

77 bean tacos served with a red balloon to passersby on the street

Industrial Area, Doha, Qatar, February 2011

documentation photos by Sue Pownall and Jaime Alejo Car

One of the first things you notice in Qatar is the relentless postive propaganda. When I was there, the country achieved it's goal of exporting 77 million tons of liquified natural gas. This was cause for celebration, a promotional campaign, and of course, a logo.

Much of Qatar's success is achieved with the help of it's large immigrant working class. Manual laborers live in Doha's Industrial Area, located adjacent to the Qatar Racing Club dragstrip, which is where I spent most of my days. The air in the Industrial Area is constantly filled with sand and dust, and looks like a pretty grim place to live.

Celebrating natural resources (gas) and immigrant labor, I decided to serve 77 bean tacos to the mostly South Asian Industrial Area residents. Collaborator Sebastian Maria Betancur Montoya brought 77 helium filled red balloons to the project. The result was a brief, cargo-cultlike intervention and party on an otherwise unremarkable evening in Doha's Industrial Area.

These men and their living/working conditions have since become cause celebre for journalists and activists, who if they visit the area at all seem to find only what they came looking for. What I myself found was an unexpectedly content group of people. While I wouldn't want to live in these apartments and work the jobs these men were doing, they themselves seemed at peace with it. I can only imagine the conditions they left behind.