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“It moved my practice into more complex areas” | Experimental Artist Ayman Zedani on his Ithra Art Prize Win

Experimentation with different media coupled with a fascination with scientific processes and the properties of unconventional materials are all features that characterise the work of Sharjah-based Saudi artist Ayman Zedani, represented by Athr Gallery (Jeddah).


Zedani has been extensively represented in numerous group shows across the region, including Sharjah Art Foundation (2018, Sharjah, UAE), Institut du Monde Arabe (2018, Paris, France), Sharjah Art Museum (2017), DCT Abu Dhabi (2017), and Tashkeel (2017, Dubai, UAE). At Art Dubai 2018, he became the first recipient of the Ithra Art Prize.


Art Dubai talks to him about his win and recent developments in his career which include his first solo show:

Ayman Zedani (self portrait)

It’s been close to two years since you were the winner of the inaugural Ithra Art prize – what has been the biggest impact on your career since then?

I think the biggest impact is the fact that building a “permanent” marker got me thinking and exploring more the ephemeral aspect of things and pushed my practice into a direction of exploring more urgent matters that affect earthbound creatures.

Your dual interest in scientific processes and visual art, has led you towards some fascinating presentations. Do you feel that the winning commission, ‘Meem’, has moved your practice into more complex areas or have you found yourself looking for more universal forms of expression?

It moved my practice into more complex areas such as the new materialist philosophies of Jane Bennett and Donna J. Haraway, ranging from Bennett’s theories on the vibrancy and agency of matter to Haraway’s provocative suggestions for multispecies collaboration by “making kin” as ways of surviving the challenges of the Anthropocene.

Ayman Zedani, Ithra Art Prize 2018, ‘Meem’

Since winning, you have been exhibited at Sharjah Art Foundation and you have an upcoming exhibition at New York University Abu Dhabi. How do you hope your work is received and experienced by the public?

There’s a whole new narrative that started with Sharjah Art Foundation’s March Project and my installation cum laboratory titled ‘non-human-assembly’ and was followed by my first solo exhibition at Athr Gallery in Jeddah, ‘bahar-bashar-shajar-hajar’ (‘Sea, human, tree and stone’) which was curated by Murtaza Vali.


This will continue through to my new installation, ‘Between muddles and tangles’, which forms part of NYUAD’s next show, Speculative Landscapes. I hope that the public can pick up on this narrative and come to the show, it is intended to be a healing space for everyone to visit.

Ayman Zedani, March Project, ‘non-human assembly’

For those thinking about applying this year for the Ithra Prize, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them?

Be specific, be clear and most importantly ambitious.

Applications for the Ithra Art Prize 2020 are open until Thursday October 3, 2019. For further information, click here.

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