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Established by The Abraaj Group, a leading investor in growth markets, to support contemporary artists of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, The Abraaj Group Art Prize 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.

The latest edition of the Prize marked the 10th anniversary, for which the following participants were selected by The Abraaj Group Art Prize Jury:

Winning Artist

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Jordan/Lebanon

Shortlisted Artists

Basma Alsharif, Palestine
Neil Beloufa, Algeria
Ali Cherri, Lebanon

Guest Curator

Myriam Ben Salah, Tunisia

Walled Unwalled, 2018,  Video installation, loop 20 minutes, 2K video, stereo sound, 400cm x 225cm glass


Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Walled Unwalled, 2018
Video installation, loop 20 minutes, 2K video, stereo sound, 400cm x 225cm glass.

Artwork description by Lawrence Abu Hamdan:

In the year 2000 there was a total of fifteen fortified border walls and fences between sovereign nations. Today, physical barriers at sixty-three borders divide nations across four continents. As these walls were being constructed, millions and millions of invisible cosmic particles called muons descended into the earth’s atmosphere and penetrated metres deep, through layers of concrete, soil and rock. Scientists realised that these deep penetrating particles could be harvested, and a technology could be developed to use their peculiar physical capacities to pass through surfaces previously impervious to x rays. Muons allowed us to see for the first time the contraband hidden in lead lined shipping containers and secret chambers buried inside the stone walls of the pyramids. Now no wall on earth is impermeable. Today, we’re all wall, and no wall at all. Historically walls have been both an architectural and legal device. Legal in that they define the limits to a city and its jurisdiction while also the walls of the home have been the barrier between public (civic) and private life. The history of the self and the citizen and the notion of the enclosed room, city or nation are intertwined. What does it mean for us as subjects that we are now building more walls than ever and more to the point what implications does this have now that the wall is no longer physically or conceptually solid or impenetrable.

Walled Unwalled is a single channel film projected on a glass wall covered in a special holographic foil that allows it to be reactive to light – dark elements of the image retain the glass walls natural transparency while the bright patches allows it to appear solid. The performance comprises of an interlinking series of narratives derived from legal cases that revolved around evidence that was heard or experienced through walls. It consists of a series of performances reenactments and a monologue staged inside a trio of sound effects studios in the Funkhaus, East Berlin. Although this space is now abandoned the architecture and acoustic elements have been perfectly preserved since its use for GDR state radio production. In their day these sound studios were the most advanced example of radio architecture; in which almost any acoustic world could be conjured. The floors divided into multiple surfaces in order to be able to create the sound of footsteps on gravel or wood, marble or sand, snow or tiles. Creating sounds from the outside inside. Rooms in which an arrangement of modular partitions could create acoustic spaces of any shape and size. Rooms where the walls themselves could revolve, transforming between different surfaces that could reflect and reverberate the rich diversity of life on the other side of the wall.



Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist, “private ear” and fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, New York. His projects have taken the form of audiovisual installations, performances, graphic works, photography, Islamic sermons, cassette tape compositions, potato chip packets, essays, and lectures. Abu Hamdan’s interest with sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background in DIY music. He has made audio analyses for legal investigations at the UK Asylum Tribunal and advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College, London, where he is also a PhD candidate.

Abu Hamdan’s Rubber Coated Steel, 2016, won the short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2017 and his exhibition Earshot at Portikus Frankfurt, 2016, was the recipient of the 2016 Nam June Paik Award. Other solo exhibitions include Taqiyya, 2015, at Kunsthalle St Gallen, Tape Echo, 2013, at Beirut in Cairo and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Freedom Of Speech Itself, 2012, at Showroom, London, and The Whole Truth, 2012, at Casco, Utrecht. Additionally, his works have been presented in Tamawuj, Sharjah Biennial 13, Sharjah, 2017, Contour Biennale 8: Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium, Mechelen, Belgium, 2017, 11th Gwangju Biennial, South Korea, 2016, the 9th Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, 2016, The Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai, 2014, The Whitechapel Gallery, London, MACBA, Barcelona, Tate Modern, London, The Beirut Art Center and The Taipei Biennial, all in 2012. Abu Hamdan’s writing can be found in Forensis Sternberg Press, Manifesta Journal and Cabinet Magazine. His works are part of collections at MoMA, New York, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Arts Council England. Lawrence Abu Hamdan was born in 1985 in Amman, Jordan. He currently lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon.


Basma Alsharif is an artist and filmmaker born in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, raised between France, the US and the Gaza Strip. She has a BFA and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Basma developed her practice nomadically and works between cinema and installation, centring on the human condition in relation to shifting geopolitical landscapes and natural environments. Major exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, Les Rencontres d’Arles, New York, Les Modules at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 25 Years of Arabic Creativity, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum, New York, the Al Riwaq Biennial, Palestine, the Berlin Documentary Forum, the Sharjah Biennial and Manifesta 8. She received a jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9 and was awarded the Marcelino Botin Visual Arts grant. Basma is represented by Galerie Imane Farès in Paris.

Neil Beloufa is a Franco-Algerian artist, who lives and works in Paris. He was a student at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, Cooper Union, New York and Fresnoy – National Contemporary Arts Studio, Tourcoing. His work has been the subject of monographic exhibitions in France and abroad, notably at K11, Shanghai, 2016, MoMA, New York, 2016, Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin, 2015, the ICA, London, 2014, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2013, and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013. Neil Beloufa also took part in the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Shanghai in 2014, the 55th International Contemporary Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, 2013, and the Biennial of Contemporary Art in Lyon, also in 2013. His work is present in numerous prestigious collections, including the Centre Pompidou, the MoMA, New York as well as the Sammlung Goetz and the collection of Julia Stoschek.

Ali Cherri is a filmmaker and visual artist living in Beirut and Paris. His recent solo exhibitions include Somniculus at Jeu de Paume, Paris and CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, 2017, Dénaturé at Galerie Imane Farès, 2017, From Fragment to Whole at Jönköpings läns museum, Sweden, 2017, Taxonomy of Fallacies at Sursock Museum, Beirut, 2016. His work has been exhibited in several international venues among them the Centre Pompidou, 2017, the Lyon Biennia, 2017, MAXXI, Rome, 2017, Le MACVAL, 2017, the Guggenheim New York, 2016, the Aïchi Trienniale, Japan, 2016, Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Italy, 2016, Le Centquatre Paris, 2016, the Sharjah Art Foundation, 2016, MACBA, Spain, 2015, the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, 2015, Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma, Spain, 2015, the Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea, 2014. He’s the recipient of Harvard University’s Robert E. Fulton Fellowship, 2016, and the Rockefeller Foundation Award, 2017.



Myriam Ben Salah is a curator and writer based in Paris, where she has been coordinating special projects and public programmes at the Palais de Tokyo since 2009, focusing particularly on performance art, video and publishing initiatives. She is the Editor-in-Chief of KALEIDOSCOPE Magazine’s international edition and co-edits F.A.Q., a periodical image-only magazine with artist Maurizio Cattelan, as well as Feb (Mag), the publication of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. Her writings have appeared in numerous international art publications. Her latest curatorial projects include We Dance, We Smoke, We Kiss, Fahrenheit, Los Angeles, 2016, Cool Memories, Occidental Temporary, Paris, 2016, Like the Desert Miss the Real, Galerie Steinek as part of Curated-by, Vienna, 2015, Dirty Linen, DESTE Foundation at the Benaki Museum, Athens, 2015, Shit and Die, Palazzo Cavour as part of Artissima collateral program, Turin, 2014.


The Abraaj Group Art Prize was founded in 2008 and this was its tenth edition. The aim of the Prize was to empower potential and give often under-represented contemporary artists the resources to further develop their talent. Following the application and jury process, four artists were shortlisted for the Prize and one (of the four) artists awarded the US$100,000 commission. The three shortlisted artists receive a cash prize and were represented in a group exhibition at Art Dubai (March 21-24, 2018) through previous works, which were selected by the Guest Curator in collaboration with the artist. To date, the winning works were presented at Art Dubai every year and have then gone on loan to exhibitions at Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, Sharjah Biennale 11, Sharjah, the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, V&A, London, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, Zhejiang, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Tensta Konstall, Stockholm, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow, 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju as well as the New Museum, New York.