March 25, 2013 - The Abraaj Group Art Prize - extra | ordinary
March 25, 2013

extra | ordinary

Vartan Avakian, A Very Short History of Tall Men, 2013. Gold and synthetic glass. Photo courtesy Vipul Sangoi.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize

abraajprize [​at​]

The winning artworks of the fifth edition of The Abraaj Group Art Prize were unveiled at Art Dubai this week, in the specially curated exhibition extra | ordinary, which showcases the common themes running through this year’s works and yet highlights the diversity of each creative process.

Guest Curator Murtaza Vali on the curatorial concept behind the exhibition: “The five works in this exhibition spring forth from the rich bedrock of the ordinary. Varied in subject matter and media, they all occupy that minor register of culture, history, politics and contemporary life that encompasses the quotidian, the private, personal and domestic, the popular and vernacular, the lost and forgotten. The forms and structures of these projects ask us to recalibrate our vision and attention, to lean in and get a better look, scour backgrounds, pay close attention to details, read all the fine print, allow the dense web of information and association embedded within to leisurely unfold. They do not strive to transform or transcend the ordinary. Instead, they humbly remind us of all that is extra in the ordinary itself.”

Accompanying the exhibition is the publication extra | ordinary designed by New York design agency Project Projects, with commissioned essays from celebrated writers Haig Aivazian, Adnan Madani, Vali Mahlouji, Nat Muller, Walid Sadek and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie. Made up of five independent volumes, each includes an in-depth essay about the artists’ broader practice, an interview with Murtaza Vali and series of artist pages about each project.

Vartan Avakian (b. 1977, Byblos) presents A Very Short History of Tall Men, commemorating the forgotten leaders of failed coups d’état through miniature gold statues entombed in clear acrylic spheres (illustrated). Iman Issa’s (b.1979, Cairo) Common Elements draws on her interest in autobiographies and museums, using fragments of this research, presented as text panels, photographs and sculptures to create a collective narrative of a life dedicated to the pursuit of thought, culture and justice. Huma Mulji (b.1970, Karachi) has created The Miraculous Lives of This and That, a twenty-first century Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, slightly larger than life, full of objects such as taxidermy animals and porcelain imitations of cheap plastic dolls, meditating on the mortality of all things. Hrair Sarkissian (b.1973, Damascus) visited and shot hundreds of photography studios in six major Middle Eastern cities—Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Byblos, Cairo and Istanbul—before selecting the images that form Background, which marks the eclipse of a tradition of studio portraiture integral to the twentieth-century history of photography in the Middle East. Rayyane Tabet’s (b.1983, Ashqout) FIRE/CAST/DRAW is a sprawling floor piece comprised of thousands of unique lead pieces, inspired by art history, numismatics, folklore and superstition and the Middle East’s conflict-ridden recent past.

Now in its fifth edition, The Abraaj Group Art Prize is globally unique in awarding talented artists on the basis of proposals rather than completed works. The number of artworks that have been created during the first five years and go on to form The Abraaj Group Art Collection has now grown to twenty-one. Since its inception the prize has evolved considerably and the artworks are increasingly exhibited in major international biennials, such as Sharjah Biennial 11 and The Biennale of Sydney; and world-class museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C.

The Selection Committee for The Abraaj Group Art Prize includes leading experts in the field of the visual arts, including Antonia Carver, Director, Art Dubai; Dana Farouki, Patron; Glenn Lowry, Director, the Museum of Modern Art; Salwa Mikdadi, art historian and curator; Jessica Morgan, Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art, Tate and Julia Peyton-Jones, Co-Director, The Serpentine Gallery.

The Abraaj Group are the leading investor operating in the global growth markets of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Applications are open until March 31, 2013 for artists to apply for the 2014 edition.

For further information, please contact:
Laura Egerton
Curator, Abraaj Group Art Prize

M +97150 956 4021
T +971 4506 4400

The Abraaj Group Art Prize
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