The 7th Abraaj Group Art Prize announces Moroccan artist Yto Barrada as the winner.
The Abraaj Group Art Prize has announced the winner and shortlisted artists of its seventh edition. Following a slight change of format, the prize awarded to Yto Barrada will result in the artist producing a commission for the 2015 Prize exhibition.
On 15 September 2014, the Abraaj Group Art Prize announced French-Moroccan artist Yto Barrada as the winner of its seventh edition. Barrada has been awarded the prize money of USD100,000 to produce a commissioned artwork for the Prize’s 2015 exhibition at Art Dubai, curated by Abraaj-nominated Guest Curator Omar Kholeif. Barrada is the second Moroccan artist to have won the prize: Bouchra Khalili was among the five winning artists of 2014.
The winner: Yto Barrada
Yto Barrada (b. 1971, Paris) is a multidisciplinary artist, working in photography, film, sculpture, prints and installation. She studied History and Political Science at La Sorbonne, Paris and Photography in New York. Her work is particularly intriguing owing to its exploration of the peculiarities of Tanger, her hometown in Morocco.
Barrada has exhibited widely in prestigious institutions such as Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), Renaissance Society (Chicago), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Guggenheim (Berlin), the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London) and the Venice Biennale in 2007 and 2011. In 2011, she was Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year (YouTube video), after which her series “RIFFS” toured widely. She is also the Founding Director of Cinémathèque de Tanger.
The new prize format
The Abraaj Group Art Prize is the only art prize that awards artists exclusively from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia (MENASA) region and is designed to give artists an opportunity to produce artworks that would otherwise be difficult to create due to budget restrictions.
This year, the prize has changed slightly from its previous iterations. In the past, it was awarded to five artists, all of whom would receive an equal prize to produce their commission for the Art Dubai exhibition. The 2015 prize, however, awards only one winning artist who will create the commissioned artwork, while three other shortlisted artists are granted a smaller amount of money and will participate in the curated exhibition with existing bodies of work.
In regard to this new format, curator Kholeif commented:
I am particularly excited by the new format of The Abraaj Group Art Prize. By being able to access existing bodies of work alongside the new commission, there will be potential for a rich storytelling experience and a rigorous curatorial framework.
The new iteration of The Abraaj Group Art Prize reflects an international acknowledgement of the diverse and mature art ecosystem in the MENASA region. Each year it will focus on a singular winner but also anticipate future winners by showcasing a cast of shortlisted artists. The 2015 winner and shortlisted artists have already participated in various exhibitions to critical acclaim and are seen as influential on their peers and the art world at large.
The shortlisted artists
The seventh edition’s shortlisted artists are Sarnath Banerjee, Setareh Shahbazi and Mounira Al Solh.
Sarnath Banerjee (b. 1972, Kolkata, India) is an artist and filmmaker, widely known as India’s first graphic novelist and co-founder of Phantomville, a comic publishing house. His work focuses on India’s contemporary urban life and society viewed through the lens of its traditions, history, mythology and popular culture.
Berlin-based Setareh Shahbazi (b. 1978, Tehran, Iran) combines the personal with collective memory about her native Iran and its social and cultural landscapes. In her photographic and painting artwork, she mixes pop art and industrial design techniques with a bold sense of humour.
Mounira Al Solh (b. 1978, Beirut, Lebanon) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is humorous and prone to the unexpected. She explores a variety of themes, including complex gender or political issues and questions the pressures on Arab artists who are wedged between local and international expectations.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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