Jameel Prize shortlist: seven listed, including Haerizadeh/Haerizadeh/Rahmanian

From If I had two paths, I would choose a third by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

Seven projects have been shortlisted for the Jameel Prize (which, serendipitously enough, is in its seventh edition). The Prize is the V&A’s international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, a triennial competition worth £25,000 to the winner; it has been a major success, consistently identifying imaginative works of quality that fit the brief and incidentally open the world’s eyes to Islamic traditions and styles.

The year the prize is for moving image and digital media – for each iteration there’s a different focus, and this year the formal title is ‘the Jameel Prize: Moving Images’. Some 300 artists responded to an open call in 2023.

The international jury that will decide the winner of the 7th edition is chaired by V&A director Tristram Hunt and comprises the NY-based Iranian media artist, activist, and writer Morehshin Allahyari; artist Ajlan Gharem, who won the sixth Jameel Prize, ‘Poetry to Politics’; Sadia Shirazi, writer, art historian and curator (currently of International Art at Tate Modern); and Laura U. Marks, a scholar of new media and film, tenured at the School for the Contemporary Arts of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

The finalists

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian (Iran, based in UAE)

Well known to UAE audiences, the trio are presenting an animation titled If I had two paths, I would choose a third (2020). It explores the iconoclastic toppling of statues, and the life of the icon after that, through documentation and media coverage of key moments in Middle Eastern history – from the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran to the start of the Iraq war in 2003.

The artists refer to this style of moving image work as ‘fluid painting’: every frame is an individual printout that has been hand-painted. The work reflects on the making and unmaking of power through the monument and its destruction, as well as the artists’ desire to reclaim and reframe the subject matter.

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji (Iraq, based in the Netherlands)

Alfraji’s practice is centred around storytelling, drawing upon personal and collective memory. In ‘Jameel Prize: Moving Images’, the artist will show two hand-drawn animations that poetically document the lives of his parents.

Jawa El Khash (Syria, based in Canada)

The Upper Side of The Sky (2019) by El Khash is a 3D simulation that investigates and resurrects Syrian archaeology and ecology that has been endangered or destroyed as a result of the ongoing civil war. At its core is the notion that in the digital realm such monuments – whether tangible architecture or ephemeral plant-life – might live on in an imagined world, as a form of digital archaeology.

Alia Farid (Kuwait / Puerto Rico)

Alia Farid’s works examine tensions over resources created by colonial borders in the Arabian Gulf, focussing on the impacted conditions of everyday people and cultures. Chibayish (2022 and 2023) is one such project, based on years of research and time spent with communities in southern marshlands of Iraq; Farid documents her interactions with three young residents who live there with their families as the destruction fundamentally transforms their home and traditions. In a related sculptural work, Farid creates monumental versions of drinking fountains and vessels that are used across the Arabian Gulf to gather and distribute water.

Ohida Khandakar (India)

Dream Your Museum (2022) is Ohida’s film portrait of her uncle, Khandakar Selim, who has built an extraordinary collection of objects and memorabilia over the last 50 years. The work challenges the nature of museums in the Indian context, as bastions of nationalism with little room for alternative narratives; the film is accompanied by an installation of objects from Selim’s collection, which he transports in simple metal trunks.

Zahra Malkani (Pakistan)

Malkani’s work brings together the sonic and the sacred, exploring how mystical and devotional practices in Pakistan intersect musical and oral traditions in the particular context of water. Since 2019, the artist has been collecting an audio archive of devotional sounds and traditions on the Indus River and the Indian Ocean, as part of her project A Ubiquitous Wetness (2023); the work explores how these sonic practices constitute a form of resistance against the ecological and infrastructural violence being felt along the coasts and rivers of Pakistan.

Marrim Akashi Sani (Iraq / Iran / USA)

The Muharram (2023) photo series by the Detroit-based Iraqi-Iranian artist, writer, designer, and filmmaker explores the complex and ambivalent process of adapting and assimilating, particularly in relation to religious practice. Sani’s intimate images capture practices around the commemoration of Muharram, a sacred month in Islam, and explore the ways in which this community has retained and evolved their faith in the American Midwest.

Jameel Prize: Moving Images is curated by the V&A’s Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East, Rachel Dedman. The winner of the Prize will be announced on 27 November and all the finalists’ works will be on show at the V&A from 30 November. After its run at the V&A, ‘Jameel Prize: Moving Images’ will go on tour in 2025 to national and international venues, including Hayy Jameel in Jeddah and the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai.

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