Kallol Datta’s clothing design, Left, Golnar Adili’s composition.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
V&A and Art Jameel have announced the Jameel Prize shortlist. Jameel Prize is the world’s leading award for contemporary art and design, inspired by Islamic tradition.
Eight finalists have been shortlisted from over 400 applications for the £25,000 prize: Golnar Adili (Iran), Hadeyeh Badri (UAE), Kallol Datta (India), Farah Fayyad (Lebanon), Ajlan Gharem (Saudi Arabia), Sofia Karim (UK), Jana Traboulsi (Lebanon) and Bushra Waqas Khan (Pakistan).
Jameel Prize is a collaboration between the V&A and Art Jameel, founded in 2009, now in its sixth edition. This edition marks a new era for it by introducing a thematic focus dedicated to contemporary design.
Opening on September 18 at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, before touring internationally, Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics — which showcases works by the eight shortlisted designers — will also be the first international exhibition to focus on innovative contemporary design, inspired by Islamic tradition.
With diverse practices spanning graphic design and fashion, typography and textiles, installation and activism, the finalists engage with both the personal and the political, interpreting the past in creative and critical ways.
The works address global events and lived realities and the legacies of language, architecture and craft. A winner will be announced on the opening of the exhibition in September.
The international jury which selected the shortlist and will choose the winner includes V&A Director Tristram Hunt as jury chairperson, the joint winners of Jameel Prize 5, Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, as well as British author and design critic Alice Rawsthorn and Emirati writer, researcher and founder of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi.
Hunt said: “From poetry to politics, those on the exceptional and diverse shortlist were selected for their innovative and imaginative projects, with strong links between Islamic traditions and contemporary design.”
Art Jameel’s Director, Antonia Carver, said that “fitting for our times, ‘Poetry to Politics’ is perhaps the most urgent and timely of Jameel Prize exhibitions, presenting as it does, projects that are steeped in design and craft, yet engage sharply with contemporary political debates and our daily realities.”
Through the past five editions, the Jameel Prize has received applications from more than 1,000 artists from over 40 countries, exhibited the work of 48 artists and designers, and toured to 16 venues globally.
The first five editions shaped an overall understanding of the role that Islamic tradition can play as an inspiration for both art and design. This edition also welcomed submissions via open call, as well as its traditional nomination system.
Art Jameel and the Jameel family are currently celebrating three quarters of a century of philanthropy; the journey is marked through the 75 Years/75 Voices/75 Stories project, which includes a contribution from Hunt, alongside other key figures from the worlds of business, arts, academia and philanthropy, including HRH The Prince of Wales; Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth; Max Hollein, Director at the
Metropolitan Museum New York and L Rafael Reif, President, MIT.
Adili is a multi-media artist and designer based in New York. Her practice explores aspects of her identity, particularly through Persian language and poetry.
Badri is an Emirati designer and fibre artist who lives and works in Dubai. For her, textiles offer a rich creative language — one that unites gesture, touch, memory and ritual.
Datta is a clothing designer from Kolkata, India, whose interest in clothing from North Africa and West Asia emerged during a childhood spent in the UAE and Bahrain.
He mines the shapes and silhouettes of the abaya, manteau, hanbok, hijab and caftan, combining gestures of enveloping, swaddling, wrapping and layering in contemporary configuration.
Fayyad has been shortlisted on the strength of two projects. The first is typographic: fascinated by Arabic calligraphy and lettering, she designed a contemporary Arabic typeface, Kufur, based on historic Kufic script. Her re-imagination of the original Kufic script retains its visual character while adapting some features for digital use.
The second project emerged from the politics of the present. When popular uprisings began across Lebanon in 2019, she and her colleagues set up a screen-printing intervention at the heart of the Beirut protests.
They equipped a manual press with slogans and artworks by local designers and printed these onto the clothing of protestors, free of charge, and on the spot. The spontaneous project brought Arabic typography into the public and political spheres.
Gharem is a multidisciplinary artist and mathematics teacher based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His work explores how Saudi communities understand and articulate their culture amidst globalisation and changing power dynamics.
Karim is a British architect, artist and activist based in London. Her activism work is centred on human rights, artists’ freedom of expression and campaigns for political prisoners in India and Bangladesh.
Stemming from research into Middle Eastern traditions of book-making, Traboulsi explores aspects of manuscript practices that are often considered secondary to the central text, including diacritics, Sura markers, the index, and catchwords.
The catalyst for Khan’s creative practice is affidavit paper, or oath paper, which is used for all official documents in Pakistan. Affidavit paper often carries national emblems like the star and crescent alongside motifs and patterns from Islamic art and design.
Contracts are printed and signed on this paper — it signifies authority and ownership, something kept safe over generations. For Khan, the manufacture of the affidavit stamp was similar to her practice of etching and print-making, and she began to combine these processes with pattern-cutting and embroidery in the creation of miniature garments.
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