Art Jameel has a longstanding interest in commissioning artists to make new works, often for the public realm, as well as in media or situations that further their ongoing artistic practice. In 2017, Art Jameel launched a commissioning programme anchored at Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, UAE. The programme was planned to run in a 3-year cycle, focusing on Sculpture (2018); Arts Writing and Research (2019); and Drawing and Painting (2020). With 2020 proving to be a year of an exceptional circumstance, the programme has been adjusted and expanded to include a new iteration—Art Jameel Commissions: Digital. (The drawing and painting commission will move to 2021-2022.)

Art Jameel Commissions: Digital 

Artist Nadim Choufi has been awarded Art Jameel Commissions: Digital for his winning proposal that embraces the theme of smart cities and the time cycles that govern its foundations. Choufi’s winning project, titled The Sky Oscillates Between Eternity and Its Immediate Consequences, digitally renders environments of a space colony on Earth, where two narrators attempt to unbound the perpetually promised possibilities in imagining the future and creating a space of multiple presents to question the clock running the planet through their lived experiences. The work will debut online and be accessible via Art Jameel’s websites.

Recognising the diversity of ideas and exceptional quality of the proposals received, the jury opted to also award honourable mentions to two applicants: Nora Al Badri, a multidisciplinary and conceptual media artist based in Berlin,  and Beirut-based duo Edwin Nasr and Bassem Saad.

Launched earlier this year, Art Jameel Commissions: Digital invited artists to submit proposals through an online Open Call which attracted nearly 200 project submissions; the winning work is to be launched and exhibited online for at least six months in early 2021. The commission also provides an opportunity for mentoring by technical experts from MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL). Responding to this year’s theme of ‘Time’, and thinking through how the concept of time has been challenged by technology and circumstance, the commission presented artists with an opportunity to rethink “digital art” and the ways in which it can question, investigate and form meaningful connections and experiences.

The winning proposal was selected by an esteemed, experts which included: Nadim Samman, Curator for the Digital Sphere, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; digital and organic media artist Jenna Sutela; and publisher and Chief Technology Officer at the Serpentine Galleries, London Ben Vickers.

About the Artists

Nadim Choufi lives in Beirut and primarily works with video, 3D animation, and sculpture. An alumnus of Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace fellowship, he exhibited his work regionally and internationally in Beirut Art Center, Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421, Sharjah Art Foundation, The New School in New York, and Macao in Milan.

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Nora Al-Badri is a multi-disciplinary and conceptual media artist with a German-Iraqi background based in Berlin. Her works are research-based as well as paradisciplinary. She graduated in political sciences at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main and is the first artist-in-residence at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and its Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+).

Edwin Nasr (b. 1994) is a writer and cultural worker based in Beirut. He is currently the Assistant to the Director at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, and will serve as a Curatorial Fellow 2020-21 at De Appel in Amsterdam, where he will be conducting research on decolonial aesthetics and modes of exhibition-making.

Bassem Saad is an artist and writer trained in architecture. His work explores objects and economies that distribute violence, pleasure, welfare and waste, through video, sculpture and writing. He was most recently a resident at Eyebeam in New York.

Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research

For the 2019 cycle, Art Jameel announced that Nadia Christidi, a Syrian, Palestinian, and Greek researcher and writer was awarded Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research. Christidi’s winning proposal culminates in a publication following her three-month residency at Jameel Arts Centre; her interests include impending water crises, and the present plans and future planning scenarios that have emerged in response.

The 2018-2019 jury included writer, curator and Director of Dar al-Ma’mun, a library and artists’ residency in Marrakech, Morocco, Omar Berrada and independent writers and critics, Negar Azimi and Nida Ghouse. Art Jameel Commissions: Arts Writing and Research was open to all areas of enquiry, although with preference to those who engage with the thematic focusses within Jameel Art Centre’s current programming which are:

Confluence: Inspired by the UAE’s standing as an international meeting place and point of convergence, as well as Jameel Arts Centre’s waterside location on Dubai Creek.

Museology: As a new independent arts institution, the Centre is invested in critically investigating modes of art production and exhibition making.

The GCC: While the scope of its programme is intentionally international, the Centre is also rooted in its local context and includes artists’ works and projects that explore experiences of living and working in the Gulf countries.

About Nadia Christidi

Nadia Christidi is a Syrian, Palestinian, and Greek researcher, writer, and arts practitioner based between Cambridge, MA and Beirut, Lebanon. Her work explores the political and economic dimensions of environmental imaginaries, earth sciences, and their representation in literature, art, and design. She has exhibited at Beirut Art Center; SALT Galata, Istanbul; and SALT Ulus, Ankara. Nadia was previously Assistant Director at Beirut Art Center and Interpretation and Learning Lead at Darat al Funun, Amman, and has worked on exhibition projects with Ashkal Alwan and the Young Arab Theatre Fund. Her writing has been published by Arteeast, ArtAsiaPacific, and TandemWorks. Nadia holds a BA in History of Art (2006) from Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania and an MA in Historical Studies (2015) from the New School for Social Research, New York. She is currently a PhD candidate in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.

Art Jameel Commissions: Sculpture

The Art Jameel Commissions: Sculpture jury awarded Kuwait-based artists Alia Farid and Aseel AlYaqoub. The artists’ major, immersive installation Contrary Life: A Botanical Light Garden Devoted to Trees debuted at the opening of Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai on November 11, 2018. The announcement took place on February 26, 2018 and the artists were granted a commission to realize their work, which riffs on our relationship with the natural world; their site-specific installation acts as a community botanical garden, albeit one made up of artificial, hybrid trees and flora.

awarded Kuwait-based artists Alia Farid and Aseel AlYaqoub. The artists’ major, immersive installation Contrary Life: A Botanical Light Garden Devoted to Trees debuted at the opening of Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai on November 11, 2018. The announcement took place on February 26, 2018, and the artists were granted a commission to realise their work, which riffs on our relationship with the natural world; their site-specific installation acts as a community botanical garden, albeit one made up of artificial, hybrid trees and flora.

The announcement followed a highly popular call to artists in 2017 that garnered diverse applications from over 57 countries. The shortlist included four artists — Mohammed Kazem, Anahita Razmi and Mounira Al Solh as well as Farid and AlYaqoub; all four artists developed further their concepts and a final jury deliberation settled on the Kuwaiti artists as the winners.

The 2017-2018 jury included writer and curator Shumon Basar; independent curator and art historian Reem FaddaJames Lingwood, Co-director, Artangel; Elvira Dyangani Ose, Senior Curator of Creative Time and Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation; plus representatives from Art Jameel.

As part of its Open Call for the programme in October 2017, Art Jameel invited artists to submit proposals for sculptural works that utilise light technologies, reflecting on the role of light in a dynamic urban setting such as Dubai. Artists were encouraged to use Jameel Arts Centre’s architectural façade, and other locations in and around the building as a point of inspiration; the new work debuted in conjunction with the opening of the Centre on November 11, 2018.

About the Artists

Aseel AlYaqoub (b. 1986) was born and raised in Kuwait, where she continues to live and work. She graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design with a BA in Interior and Spatial Design. After four years in the architecture industry, AlYaqoub pursued a Masters in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (Sculpture).  Her work offers an inspection of Kuwait’s past and how it emerges into the present. Using nostalgia as an instrument for critical thought, rather than the longing for the past, AlYaqoub’s practice investigates the invention/reinvention of heritage and tradition in a recently born nation-state. This often results in an examination of both the human need for conclusive stories and the question of how anecdotes come to represent history. Her work has been exhibited at Edge of Arabia (London), Boiler Room (New York), A1 Gallery (Dubai), Design Terminal (Budapest), Museum of Modern Art (Kuwait City), Contemporary Art Gallery (Kuwait City) and The Sultan Gallery (Kuwait City). She has given talks about her work at the Nuqat conference (2015) and Abu Dhabi Art (2017).

Alia Farid (b. 1985) works at the intersection of art, architecture and urban anthropology through video, spatial installations, drawings and other mediums. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from La Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico (Viejo San Juan), a Master of Science in Visual Studies from the Visual Arts Program at MIT (Cambridge) and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies and Critical Theory from the Programa d’Estudis Independents at MACBA (Barcelona). Farid curated the Pavilion of Kuwait at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of at La Biennale di Venezia. She has completed residencies at Beta Local (San Juan), Casa Árabe in conjunction with Delfina Foundation (Córdoba), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Doha), Davidoff Art Initiative (La Romana), The Serpentine Galleries (London), La Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris) and marra.tein (Beirut). Recent and upcoming shows include participation in the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016); the 20th Contemporary Art Festival by SESC Pomépia and VideoBrasil (2017); and solo shows at NC-arte, Bogota (2018) and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris (2017). Farid lives and works in Kuwait and Puerto Rico.