Jameel Prize for contemporary artists and designers

Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in partnership with Art Jameel, the vision of the Jameel Prize is to recognise the influence of Islamic tradition on contemporary culture and celebrate contemporary practitioners inspired by Islamic design and visual culture.

The artists and designers shortlisted for the Jameel Prize are invited to show examples of their artwork in a special exhibition, which debuts either at the V&A or another notable international museum, before travelling to other venues around the world.

Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics

From September 18 through to November 28 2021, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, before touring internationally, ‘Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics’ showcases works by eight finalists 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: Poetry to Politics is 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 in the exhibition will address global events and lived realities, and the legacies of language, architecture and craft. 

Ajlan Gharem has been announced as the winner of the sixth edition of the Jameel Prize, the world’s leading award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, presented by Fady Jameel, Chairman and Founder of Art Jameel, at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday 15 September 2021. Gharem was chosen by an esteemed, independent jury for his architectural installation Paradise Has Many Gates, 2015, which was commended for its boldness and ambition.

The international jury for ‘Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics,’ which selected the shortlist and 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

As the V&A seeks to promote different aspects of this burgeoning field, ‘Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics’ is the first devoted to a single discipline. This edition also welcomed submissions via open call, as well as its traditional nomination system. More information on the history of the Prize is located here.

You can also read the press release here for more information or watch the videos below.

THE WINNER

Ajlan Gharem

Ajlan Gharem (b. 1985, Saudi Arabia) is an artist and mathematics teacher. His work explores the changing nature of society in Saudi Arabia. Gharem’s architectural installation Paradise Has Many Gates is true to the form and design of a traditional mosque, but is made of the cage-like chicken wire used for border walls and prison fences. Although the wire feels uninviting, even frightening, it also renders the mosque transparent and open – even welcoming.

 

THE FINALISTS

Golnar Adili

Golnar Adili (b. 1976, USA) is an artist and designer based in New York. Growing up in Tehran after the 1979 Revolution, Adili’s early life was characterised by separation and uprootedness. Her practice explores aspects of her identity through Persian language and poetry. Her work on display in the Jameel Prize pays homage to her father, transforming one of his letters into an installation both monumental and delicate.

Hadeyeh Badri

For Hadeyeh Badri (b. 1988, UAE)textiles offer a rich creative language. Her weavings incorporate Arabic writing into the dense and delicate fabric. The text is personal, taken from the diary of Badri’s beloved late aunt, and Badri uses weaving as a way of reconnecting with her. Calling upon poetic tropes and their connection to memory, Badri considers her textiles intimate, imperfect monuments to loved ones.

Kallol Datta

Kallol Datta (b. 1982, India) is a clothing designer from Kolkata. Datta is interested in clothing practices from North Africa, West Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Korean peninsula. His design process involves rigorous creative research and experimental pattern-cutting. In his bold contemporary clothing, Datta mines and combines the shapes of the abaya, manteau, hanbok, hijab and caftan, with gestures of enveloping, layering and veiling.

Farah Fayyad

Farah Fayyad (b. 1990, Lebanon) is a graphic designer and printmaker. During popular uprisings in Lebanon in 2019, Fayyad and a group of friends installed a manual screen-printing press at the heart of the Beirut protests. They printed artworks and slogans by local designers onto the clothing of protestors, bringing Arabic typography into the public and political sphere. Equally passionate about Arabic typography, her contemporary typeface, Kufur, is based on historic Kufic calligraphy.

Sofia Karim

Sofia Karim (b. 1976, UK) is an architect, artist and activist. Her Turbine Bagh project was inspired by the 2019 protests in Shaheen Bagh, a neighbourhood in Delhi, against the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act is part of an alarming rise in Islamophobic attitudes and legislation in India. As the protests have grown into an historic civil rights movement, Karim invites artists, writers and thinkers to design samosa packets for Shaheen Bagh.

Jana Traboulsi

Jana Traboulsi (b. 1979, Lebanon) is an artist and graphic designer. Stemming from research into Middle Eastern book-making traditions, Traboulsi’s Kitab al-Hawamish (Book of Margins), 2017, explores margins and marginalia in Arabic manuscript production. Kitab al-Hawamish celebrates subtle elements of book design: from letter shapes to phonetics and footnotes, the materiality of parchment and the role of recitation, the function of catchwords, and the origins of paper formats.

Bushra Waqas Khan

Bushra Waqas Khan (b. 1986, Pakistan) was originally trained as a printmaker, but today designs and constructs intricate dresses at miniature scale. Her inspiration and source material is affidavit paper, which is decorated with national emblems and Islamic patterns, and used for all official documents in Pakistan. Khan transfers the paper’s patterns onto fabric, which she cuts and embroiders into elaborate garments.

 

Jameel Prize 5

At an awards ceremony on June 27, 2018, the Jameel Prize was presented to joint winners, Mehdi Moutashar and Marina Tabassum. Eight finalists, working across fashion, architecture and art, were selected for the Jameel Prize 5 by a jury that included Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A; independent design historian Tanya HarrodSalah Hassan, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; November Paynter, Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; and Ghulam Mohammad, artist and winner of Jameel Prize 4. Alongside Moutashar and Tabassum, Kamrooz Aram, Hayv Kahraman, Hala Kaiksow, Mehdi Moutashar, naqsh collective, Younes Rahmoun,and Wardha Shabbir were participating finalists.

On April 25, 2019, the Jameel Prize 5 exhibition debuted at Jameel Arts Centre, one of the first major contemporary arts institutions in Dubai. The exhibition was inaugurated in the presence of Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), and Fady Mohammed Jameel, President, Art Jameel.

Jameel Prize: a global award

The art prize has a truly international reach: to date, finalists have come from Azerbaijan, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States. The exhibition also has a particularly global reach: Jameel Prize 1 toured the Middle East and North Africa, Jameel Prize 2 Europe and the US, Jameel Prize 3 travelled to Russia (Kazan and Moscow), United Arab Emirates (Sharjah), and Singapore, and Jameel Prize 4 travelled to Republic of Kazakhstan and Korea, after opening at the Pera Museum, Istanbul.

Jameel Prize Residency

Noor Ali Chagani, one of the shortlisted artists for the Jameel Prize 2011 was selected as the first Jameel Prize Resident Artist. In 2016, he spent three months at the V&A studying in particular the V&A’s Mughal miniature, jewellery and armoury collection. The residency allowed Noor to create a new body of work using his brick and tile making techniques and applying these to the realm of fashion. The beautiful brick jewellery he produced is inspired by the ornamental jewellery worn at the Mughal Court.