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The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is an initiative aimed at empowering artists potential through the conduit of corporate patronage. In its inaugural year, nintey-seven applications – representing artists from every country in the MENASA region in collaboration with curators from all over the world – stood testament to the void this prize has filled. Since the announcement of the finalists in October 2008 Nazgol Ansarinia with Curator Leyla Fakhr, Kutlug Ataman with Curator Cristiana Perrella and Zoulikha Bouabdellah with Curator Carol Solomon have been working diligently to realise their projects. Each project is unique and stand alone; as an ensemble, the projects embody Abraaj Capital’s corporate sentiments of creative thinking and cultural dialogue.


Winning Artist’s

Zoulikha Bouabdellah with Curator Carol Solomon

Walk on the Sky, Pisces is an evocative installation piece that recreates the night sky illuminated by a discernible astrological constellation. The debut of the piece, in March at Art Dubai, takes place when Pisces is in the sky. Constructed as an open, three-dimensional space, it has a footprint measuring 36 square metres and a height of 3 metres. A system of light-emitting diodes (LED-Flex) is used to create a luminous network of polygonal stars varying in size and colour to form the constellation.

Nazgol Ansarinia with Curator Leyla Fakhr

Nazgol Ansarinia’s work explores the patterns and structures of modern-day life. Taking inspiration from her immediate environment, she closely investigates individual systems and patterns before restructuring them into her own configurations. For the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, Nazgol continues this exploration with one of the most stereotyped artifacts of her native Iran: the Persian carpet. Typically perceived as a precious commodity, the Persian carpet has been the most utilized object for Iranians throughout history. While we have become numb to the repitition of floral shapes, Ansarinia prompts us to have a closer look at what is being taken for granted. In Rhyme and Reason, Nazgol transforms the traditional floral motifs of the Persian carpet into scenes of contemporary life in Iran.

Kutlug Ataman with Curator Cristiana Perrella 

For the Abraaj Capital Art Prize Ataman is turning the camera on himself presenting Strange Space, a recorded performance piece, part of Ataman’s most recent and challenging project, Mesopotamian Dramaturgies, focused on the problematic relationship between East and West, globalization and persistence of local cultures. In Strange Spaces, the artist filmed while crossing a sulphurous desert land with bare feet and blinded eyes. A vision inspired by classical folk and court tales typical of Mesopotamia, in which the hero, blinded by the love of a heroine, is condemned to wander in the desert trying to find her, just to burn into flames when they finally meet.