The Jameel Prize 3 announces its location-blind shortlist, tapping a growing trend for grouping artists by practice rather than place.
The Third Jameel Prize, a biennial award for artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition, has announced ten shortlisted nominees for the 2013 prize. Defined not by notions of national identity but by practice, the award nods to a turning of the tide against the “tyranny of context”.
When London’s Victoria and Albert Museum started collecting Islamic art in the 1850s, the institution broke ground in doing so, notes Wallpaper* journalist Jessica Klingelfuss. Since those heady days of Victorian collecting fever, the world has changed and the V&A has kept apace, “promoting – and also rethinking – traditional Islamic art in a contemporary framework, most notably with the conception of its biennial Jameel Prize.”
Inaugurated in 2009, the GBP 25,000 Jameel Prize aims to showcase the work of artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions of art and design. Now in its third year, the 2013 edition received around 270 nominations from countries as disparate as Algeria, Norway, Brazil and Pakistan. The ten shortlisted artists will mount works in an exhibition at the V&A from 11 December 2013 to 21 April 2014; the overall winner will be announced on the 10 December 2013.
Jameel Prize 2013 artists:
- Faig Ahmed
- Nada Debs
- Mounir Fatmi
- Rahul Jain
- Dice Kayek
- Waqas Khan
- Laurent Mareschal
- Nasser Al Salem
- Florie Salnot
- Pascal Zoghbi
Ties that bind
Works in the shortlist range from Arabic typography and calligraphy to video installation and traditional miniature drawings. The organisers’ only stipulation is that the source of inspiration must be discernibly Islamic. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, 2013 award judge and founding director of the Khatt Foundation, acknowledged the diversity of the nominees in a press release:
The shortlist features diverse and strong contemporary design work. We selected work that could set a trend in advancing new ways of interpreting Islamic art in a contemporary context as well as its relevance to society and its impact on generations to come. The experimental use of material and techniques, the clarity of message, the simplicity and purity of form, the precision of craft, and the social implications, were all taken into consideration.
Desire, doubt, desecration… and carpet-weaving
Nominees include Lahore-based Waqas Khan, who trained in miniature painting but experiments between the media of printmaking and miniature painting, and Faig Ahmed, part of a new wave of contemporary artists in Azerbaijan, who burlesques the iconography of traditional carpet weaving through his thread installations. Mounir Fatmi, who works between Paris and Tangier, is nominated for his mixed media work that, according to the Jameel Prize press release, “appeals directly to the viewers’ doubts, fears and desires” by contemplating matters such as desecration, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies.
The Jameel Prize, in its eschewing of location-specific restrictions, is keeping step with fellow UK institutions such as the Tate Modern, which, notes The Financial Times, is leading a gradual shift away from the display of work along geographical lines. “All art and artists come from a place [but] no artist wants to be circumscribed by one label or can be,” says Tate Modern head of exhibitions Achim Borchardt-Hume to the newspaper.
The tyranny of context
The attitudinal recalibration among some arts practitioners is welcomed by critics such as curator and writer Aveek Sen, notes The Financial Times. Sen has criticised the curatorial misperception that western canonical art works are universal, whereas Asian art requires “an informed understanding of the contexts in which it is produced”. This misperception Sen terms “the tyranny of context”.
- Love in a Caucasian climate: Central Asian art at the Venice Biennale 2013 – June 2013 – Faig Ahmed and 16 fellow artists open up conversations about the Caucasus in Venice
- Must-know global art trends from 6 art professionals – The Miami Herald – January 2012 – globalisation, or in other words shifting power dynamics from West to East, is the number one trend of modern art times
- Middle Eastern art scene develops: 4 top posts – September 2011 – the diversity of West Asian art makes it hard to define… but we tried anyway
- Islamic tradition reworked by 10 Jameel Prize finalists – artwork and artists – April 2011 – Art Radar rounds up the last ten to make the shortlist
- South Asian contemporary art scene: 5 artists to watch – January 2011 – we told you Waqas Kahn was worth watching
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