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The winners of the 2012 Abraaj Group Art Prize were Taysir Batniji, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Wael Shawky, Risham Syed and Raed Yassin. Their winning works were unveiled in an exhibition ‘Spectral Imprints’ at Art Dubai 2012, curated by the prize’s Guest Curator Nat Muller.


Nat Muller, Curator

Winning Artist’s

Wael Shawky

In A Glimpse of Clean History Shawky introduces his own transformation, albeit with a critical twist: a three-dimensional object in the form of a medieval marionette theatre with ceramic dolls. As an audience we are only privy to the scene for a short period of time. The grand velvet drapes open mechanically revealing the interior diorama of the marionette stage – for one minute – then close again.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige have articulated an imaginary embodiment of these spam and scam emails that clutter our inboxes on a daily basis. They have used the textual source material of selected spam and scam as visual narratives, image representations that become pieces of fiction by themselves, and beg the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.

Risham Syed

In The Seven Seas Risham Syed connects the intricacies of contemporary geo-politics with the 19th and early 20th century cotton trade of the British Empire. With fabric sourced from travels to Turkey, Bangladesh, U.A.E, Sri Lanka, UK, India and within her native Pakistan, Syed weaves the history of the location-specific craft of textile production with tales of political resistance.

Raed Yassin

Raed Yassin had chosen an unorthodox and innovative way of attempting to represent – ‘frieze’ as it were- important historical events of Lebanese contemporary history. His work struggles with the impossibility of reading things of the past in a comprehensive way.

Taysir Batniji

Taysir Batniji has etched a series of 60 ink-less “drawings” on paper, based on family photos of his brother’s wedding. These “drawings” hark back to a happier time, one of joy and family gathering. To My Brother is a fragile and poetic work which requires an intimate relationship with the viewer: stand too far away and the drawings appear as blank sheets of paper, stand closer and you will be able to trace the contours of the human shapes inhabiting these drawings, the artist’s memories, and the thin lines between an ephemeral presence and a permanent absence.