Established by The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor, to support contemporary artists of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, The Abraaj Group Art Prize invested in and has given resources to artists to develop their practice by realising a unique project. The prize reflects Abraaj’s own investment philosophy, which is to take viable businesses with great potential, and create regional and global champions.

2015 winner Yto Barrada’s newly commissioned work – Faux Départ – was unveiled at the exhibition entitled Before History at Art Dubai 2015. Curated by Omar Kholeif the exhibition also included works by the three shortlisted artists: Sarnath Banerjee, Setareh Shahbazi and Mounira Al Solh.

Before History explored the layering of time through historical artifice. As its starting point, it considered the notion of history as a constructed sphere, constantly in flux, simultaneously being buried and excavated.

Alongside Yto Barrada’s Faux Depart, were works by the three shortlisted artists: Temporary Autonomous Zones 2012 by Sarnath Banerjee, Spectral Days 2013 by Setareh Shahbazi and Mute Tongue 2010 by Mounira Al Solh; selected by curator Omar Kholeif, who worked closely with all the artists to curate and produce the exhibition as well as an accompanying catalogue.

The accompanying exhibition catalogue is available through Sternberg Press.

This special catalogue consists of two artist books, one by Yto Barrada and the other devised in collaboration with the shortlisted artists. Together they function as a sculptural object, layering on top of each other.


Omar Kholeif, Curator

Yto Barrada, Winning Aritst

Sarnath Banerjee, Shortlisted Artist

Setareh Shahbazi, Shortlisted Artist

Mounira Al Solh, Shortlisted Artist