With a total prize of $1 million, it’s easy to see how the annual Abraaj Capital Art prize has become a global news story in the three years since its launch. But its not just about the money – in its short lifetime, the prize has already succeeded in one of its founding objectives, to help generate, nurture and promote art from and of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia regions.
A key aspect of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize is that unlike most major art awards, it recognises the potential of ideas, by inviting artists to submit project proposals, with winners receiving a cut of the prize fund in order to realise their work. The strategy has been tweaked and refined over time – this year’s winners are five in number, as opposed to three, in previous editions. Additionally, the original format of an artist and curator proposing a collaboration together has been altered – from this year, Abraaj nominates a curator who works with all the selected artists, in this year’s event, independent curator, editor and writer Sharmini Pereira, who has previously worked with the Singapore Biennial and in the UK, the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Academy and Hayward Gallery.
At Art Dubai this month, we’ll have a chance to see the 2010 winners showing off the fruits of their labours. The winning quintet of Nadia Kaabi-Linke from Tunisia, Hamra Abbas from Pakistan, Iranian-German Timo Nasseri and Jananne Al-Ani from Iraq will all be unveiling their Abraaj-funded works in pieces that reflect each artist’s distinctive style and practice.
The prize reflects Abraaj Capital’s own investment philosophy, which is to take viable businesses with great potential, and create regional and global champions. Once completed, the works become part of the Abraaj Capital Art Collection. The winning pieces from 2009 and 2010 have been exhibited at Art Dubai, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), The Museum of Arts & Design in New York and Maraya Arts Centre, Al Qasba in Sharjah.
The five winning artists will be displaying their works at Art Dubai during March 16–19 at the Madinat Jumeirah. For more information, see www.abraajcapitalartprize.com.