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The winners of the 2013 Abraaj Group Art Prize were Vartan Avakian, Iman Issa, Huma Mulji, Hrair Sarkissian and Rayyane Tabet. Their winning works were unveiled in an exhibition ‘extra | ordinary’ at Art Dubai 2013, curated by The Abraaj Group Art Prize Guest Curator Murtaza Vali.


Murtaza Vali, Curator

Winning Artist’s

Hrair Sarkissian

Hrair Sarkissian is a photographer, living and working in London. He visited and shot at hundreds of photography studios in six major Middle Eastern cities—Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Byblos, Cairo and Istanbul—before selecting the images that form Background, which marks the eclipse of a tradition of studio portraiture integral to the twentieth century history of photography in the Middle East.

Vartan Avakian

A Very Short History of Tall Men commemorates the forgotten leaders of failed coups d’état through miniature gold statues entombed in clear acrylic spheres. He has exhibited throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US. Avakian is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath and a member of the Arab Image Foundation.

Rayyane Tabet

Rayyane Tabet’s work is concerned with researching hidden histories that are transformed and retold through objects and installations. FIRE/CAST/DRAW is a sprawling floor piece comprised of thousands of unique lead pieces, inspired by art history, numismatics, folklore and superstition and the Middle East’s conflict-ridden recent past.

Huma Mulji

The Miraculous Lives of This and That is a twenty-first century Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, slightly larger than life, full of objects such as taxidermy animals and porcelain imitations of cheap plastic dolls, meditating on the mortality of all things.

Iman Issa

Common Elements draws on her interest in autobiographies and museums, using fragments of this research, presented as text panels, photographs and sculptures, to create a collective narrative of a life dedicated to the pursuit of thought, culture and justice. She employs a variety of mediums including text, sound, sculpture, photography and video in her work, to raise questions about the relationship between language, history, and personal cognition and articulation.