Nadia Christidi announced as winner of Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research

The winner of 2019’s Art Jameel Commissions has been named as Nadia Christidi. This year’s Art Jameel Commissions was for Arts Writing and Research (the award cycles round various disciplines); Christidi receives a three-month residency at Jameel Arts Centre, plus support towards a new written work.

Nadia Christidi’s winning proposal will see her create a publication during a three-month residency at Jameel Arts Centre, likely to focus on climate change, disaster capitalism, global competitiveness for climate change solutions, and the manufacture of futures through culture and design.

Nadia Christidi describes herself as “a Syrian, Palestinian, and Greek researcher, writer, and arts practitioner”. Her CV includes stints at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan, and she was Assistant Director at Beirut Art Center; a while ago she was the recipient of a DELFINA-FICA Research Fellowship.

She is currently a PhD student in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT; her work ranges across nationalism, identity, and geo-politics, particularly in Lebanon and Syria, but more recently she’s been concerned with “the politicisation of nature and the naturalisation of politics”.

The open call invited applicants to respond to the Jameel’s current curatorial themes of confluence, museology and the GCC, and to reflect the institution’s position on the Dubai Creek; Christidi’s work will examine initiatives that set out to address impending water crises, taking in a wide variety of source material including fiction, art, science fiction, speculative design and governmental policy. The research also looks into strategies to prevent climate change; preparations, imagined or otherwise, for a potential future without water; and how the region is positioning itself as future-ready, environmentally.

As part of her three-month residency in the Jameel’s writer’s studio and library, Christidi will have the opportunity to engage with a network of academic, arts and cultural organisations in the UAE and across the region, and access original research material, collections and archives.

As well as producing the publication, Christidi will also host and/or participate in public events at the Jameel.

Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel, said Art Jameel was “thrilled” that the residency and commission went to Nadia Christidi – “[the] topic of the future of water could not be more urgent and timely – in the cultural field and in all our daily lives.”

She also noted that “writing and research is a particularly precarious endeavour, anywhere in the world, and perhaps particularly in the Middle East, where publishing and distributing new arts books in Arabic and English can be challenging”. Art Jameel deserves kudos for its commitment generally, but specifically for promoting research and publication.

Christidi’s proposal was selected by a jury which included Negar Azimi, senior editor of Bidoun, the magazine and curatorial project with a focus on the Middle East and its diasporas; Omar Berrada, writer and curator, and the director of the Dar al-Ma’mûn library and artists residency in Marrakech; and Nida Ghouse, who recently co-curated Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War (with Anselm Franke, Paz Guevara, and Antonia Majaca, 2017).

The inaugural edition of Art Jameel Commissions was for sculpture. It was awarded last year to Kuwait-based artists Alia Farid and Aseel AlYaqoub, responsible for the Contrary Life: A Botanical Light Garden Devoted to Trees installation they created for the Jameel. (That’s running till 1 September; catch it while you can.)

The third in the Commission’s cycle, set for 2020, will explore drawing and painting. Art Jameel Commissions is open to artists from or based in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, “as well as those from around the world with an interest in and familiarity with these regions”.

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