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The winners of the 2014 Abraaj Group Art Prize were: Abbas Akhavan, Kamrooz Aram, Bouchra Khalili, Basim Magdy and Anup Mathew Thomas. The five artists worked with The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014 Guest Curator Nada Raza on their new projects. Their winning works were unveiled in an exhibition ‘Garden and Spring’ that accompanied Art Dubai 2014.

Visit gardenandspring.org to view the prize-winning art and inspired literature in an innovative e-Catalogue with video, interviews and installation views from the exhibition.


Nada Raza, Curator

Winning Artist’s

Abbas Akhavan

Plant and animal species, gardens, and monuments have been an ongoing interest for Abbas Akhavan, and in this work they coalesce to reference ancient mythological gardens, recent political climates, plant taxonomy, and fragile contemporary ecologies. Rooted in the funerary tradition of commemorating the dead, monuments often record public figures or landmark historical events to demonstrate power and stimulate forms of nationalist or collective memory. Akhavan explored the paradox inherent in attempts to permanently fix and control forms of life despite the inevitability of shifts in power and the transience of time and memory.

Anup Mathew Thomas

Nurses is a group of portraits capturing women of Kerala origin employed in hospitals and care facilities around the world. Anup Mathew Thomas works primarily with the photograph and is interested in the slippages between documentary and artistic practice, frequently deploying carefully staged portraiture. This work forms part of a larger body of work referencing his native Kerala. Nurses are the single largest group of professional female migrants from Kerala, where the economy is largely dependent on foreign remittances. Through networks of friendship and filiation, he located women willing to participate in this typological project.

Bouchra Khalili

Garden Conversation restages a mythical encounter between two renegade heroes, seeking wisdom from our time. In January 1959, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara met the exiled hero of the Rif War (1921-1926), Abdelkarim Al Khattabi, at the Moroccan Embassy in Cairo. An anti-colonialist, Khattabi resisted two armies, the French and the Spanish, and his movement pioneered modern methods of guerrilla warfare that inspires many leaders, including Guevara and Ho Chi Minh.

Fifty-five years after their meeting and in the wake of recent events in the region, Bouchra Khalili’s films blurs historic fact and poetice fiction to hypothesize what the ghosts of Guevara and Khattabi would speak of were they to meet today.

Basim Magdy

Starting with shiny rooftops and ending with the seemingly insignificant demise of the last circus elephant of its kind, The Dent weaves loosely linked events and irrational occurrences to reflect upon collective failure and hopefulness.

Shot between Paris, New York, Brussels, Quebec, Basel, Prague, Madeira and Venice, among other locations, the scenes are lent an aura of cinematic pastness by the familiar grain and saturated tones of 16mm film. Magdy constructs a narrative through gestures and indirect affiliations between layers of sound, image, and text to respond to the absurdity of the little details that manifest into our reality.

Kamrooz Aram

Ancient Through Modern: A Collection Of Uncertain Objects, Part 1 is a wall instillation consisting of various elements of painting, ceramics and collage exhibited in a manner that evokes the displays in popular museums such as the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Taking what the artist refers to as a cultural nostalgia as a subject, this work investigates how museums, and the objects displayed within them, serve a longing for our mythical pasts and claims of origin. A case in point is how Iranians today might frequently evoke the glory of Persian Empire, although contemporary art, despite its best efforts, is still very much attached to the achievements of European Modernism