Before History: The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2015 exhibition

Before History: The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2015 exhibition

The Abraaj Group Art Prize

Yto Barrada, Faux départ (False Start), 2015. Courtesy The Abraaj Group Art Prize and Vipul Sangoi.

April 7, 2015

Before History: The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2015 exhibition
March 18–21, 2015

abraajprize [​at​]   
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The highly anticipated seventh Abraaj Group Art Prize exhibition, titled Before History, was inaugurated at Art Dubai March 18–21. The exhibition featured winning Moroccan artist Yto Barrada’s newly commissioned work titled Faux Départ (False Start) which was developed in close collaboration with guest curator Omar Kholeif since June 2014.

Questioning how one fabricates a history, Before History explores the layering of time through historical artifice. As its starting point, the exhibition considers the notion of history as a constructed sphere, constantly in flux, simultaneously being buried and excavated. In a world where everything is hyper-mediated through screens, how is one able to construct a sense of an individual history? The artists in the exhibition both individually and collectively pose questions about the sedimentation of culture.

In Faux Départ, Barrada questions the authenticity of history and museology through the study of paleontology in Morocco. The exhibition also featured previous works by the three shortlisted artists of The Abraaj Group Art Prize: Sarnath Banerjee, Setareh Shahbazi and Mounira Al Solh. 

Historical tradition is preserved in the satirical work of Sarnath Banerjee, whose series Temporary Autonomous Zones (2012) involves a dying ritual of ink and brush drawings on paper. Invoking a folkloric sensibility, Banerjee’s work explores the evolution of nation estates as solitary islands of utopia. 
Setareh Shahbazi further embodies the act of historical layering in the photographic series “Spectral Days” (2013–ongoing). Here, the artist collects found personal photo archives, and layers them through a series of effects, which involve numerous acts of printing, physical tampering, and subsequent reprinting. 
In the single-channel video The Mute Tongue, 2010/2015, Mounira Al-Solh explores the performed possibilities of language, taking Arabic proverbs as her starting point. For this work, the artist invited a Croatian performer to enact a series of 19 proverbs that are used in daily life in Lebanon and in other Arabic-speaking countries. 

Before History aspires to function as a meditation on how lived experience can act as an allegory of the geological processes that govern our world. It takes its inspiration from the accelerated nature by which history has been formed in the 21st century, and considers the decades that preceded it.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize is globally unique in awarding talented artists on the basis of proposals rather than completed works. Every year, The Abraaj Group Art Prize winners have gone on to achieve greater accolades. Past winners have been exhibited at Venice Biennale, Documenta, Sharjah Biennial, Kochi Muziris Biennial, Biennale of Sydney and La Biennale de Montreal, to name a few. In addition, the works have been loaned to a number of museums, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris;  MAXXI, Rome; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; Wien Kunsthalle, Vienna; Singapore Art Museum, Singapore and Tensta Konstall, Stockholm.

“Each year the winning artists have pushed the boundaries of their chosen medium, producing work that is universally accessible even whilst they highlight the particulars which inform and inspire their art making,” said Savita Apte, Chair of The Abraaj Group Art Prize.

The selection committee for The Abraaj Group Art Prize comprises leading experts in the field of visual arts including: Savita Apte, Chair, the Abraaj Group Art Prize; Antonia Carver, Director, Art Dubai; Dana Farouki, Patron, Trustee, MoMA PS1 / Creative Time; Dubai/New York; Salwa Mikdadi, art historian, Co-Founder/Ex-Director, Cultural and Visual Arts Resource / ICWA; Co-Founder, Association of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA); Abu Dhabi; Jessica Morgan, Director, Dia Art Foundation; Fayeeza Naqvi, patron, Founding Trustee, Aman Foundation / Aangan Trust; Founding Director, Saharay Welfare Organisation, Dubai; member, TATE MENAAC & SAAC committees; and Frederic Sicre, Managing Director, The Abraaj Group.

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The Abraaj Group Art Prize
April 7, 2015

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