Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Art-iculate: The Jameel Prize 2011

Last month I was invited down to the V+A to look around the press preview of the ten Jameel Prize 2011 nominees. A competition held bi-annually to identify the best in contemporary Islamic art and crafts, there is an inspiring prize of £25,000 which will be claimed by the winner on 12th September.
The exhibition features over 20 works that draws strongly on the artists’ and designers’ own local and regional traditions, celebrating particular materials and iconography with strong references to traditional Islamic art.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s Birds of Paradise (2008)
The works on display range from felt costumes and sculptures made from hand-made terracotta bricks to mirror mosaics and digital collages inspired by traditional Persian miniature paintings. In many of the works on display there is an underlying reference to the artists’ own ‘hybrid’ cultural identity; the mix of old and new, minimalism versus ornament, tradition and modernity, and home versus exile – topics of self-identity that are becoming increasingly relevant in modern society.
 Aisha Khalid’s Name, Class, Subject (2009)
The V+A announced the shortlist for this year’s Jameel Prize at Art Dubai. Almost 200 nominations were received, from countries as diverse as the United States, Spain, Nigeria, Egypt and Pakistan.
Soody Sharifi’s two prints Frolicking Women in the Pool (2007) and Fashion Week (2010)
The Jameel Prize is sponsored by Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI). The prize was conceived after the renovation of the V+A’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, which opened in July 2006. . Launched in 2009, the winner of the first Jameel Prize was Afruz Amighi for her work 1001 Pages (2008), an intricate hand-cut screen made from the woven plastic used to construct refugee tents.
Babak Golkar's Negotiating the Space for Possible Coexistencies No. 2 (2009)
British award-winning architect Zaha Hadid is Patron of the Jameel Prize. She says: "It is a very exciting time for artists working in Islamic art tradition, there is a real spirit of innovation and creativity in the air. Their work now goes beyond established painting, sculpture and calligraphy to explore new media and reflect the diverse cultures and histories of the region. This work has evolved with its own characteristic voice, exploring future possibilities, yet is derived from rich cultural traditions and a timeless history. For millennia, the Islamic arts and sciences have bridged the cultural divide between East and West, teaching us that these worlds are not mutually exclusive, but rather layered upon each other and profoundly interlinked. The Jameel Prize gives us a very promising outlook to the future and I am pleased to see the region's artists pushing new boundaries."
Aisha Khalid
Within the exhibition I discovered the work of several artists whose work was emotive and thought provoking. Expecting to find a labyrinth of rooms, I was pleasantly surprised to see the main exhibition contained within one space, helping to build a relationship and sense of solidarity between the artists.
Hadieh Shafie's 22500 and Two Scroll Books (2011), with detail below
With over 20 to choose from it’s hard to narrow down my favourite work to one. Favourites include: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s Birds of Paradise (2008) a work that demonstrates her distinctive style of adapting and combining Iranian traditions of mirror mosaic and reverse glass painting techniques with a modern aesthetic. Also, Aisha Khalid’s Name, Class, Subject (2009), an artist book inspired by the exercise or ‘copy books’ used by government schools in Pakistan to teach writing in Urdu and English, is inspired. More traditional works such as Soody Sharifi’s two prints Frolicking Women in the Pool (2007) and Fashion Week (2010) explore the accommodation of modernity within a traditional society, particularly referencing Muslim youth culture in Iran and the United States.
Noor Ali Chagani's Life Line (2010)
The Jameel Prize 2011 is on display until 25th September, free of charge.

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