Egyptian visual artist Wael Shawky was among six artists awarded the 2012 Abraaj Capital Art Prize on Tuesday.
Established in 2008, the prize aims to support artistic production from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia through proposal-based production grants. Its vision is to encourage curators and artists to work together rather than support a single artist. The Palestinian Taysir Batniji, Lebanese Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige and Raed Yassin, and Pakistani Risham Syed were also awarded the prize.
“We have an outstanding group of winners this year who come from incredibly diverse backgrounds and are actively engaged in developing dynamic cultural experiences within the arts sector in their respective home countries,” said Savita Apte, Chair of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, in a statement to the press. “It will be exciting to see how these five artists will work with our guest curator for the collaboration that will be unveiled at Art Dubai in March 2012.”
Dutch curator Nat Muller was chosen as guest curator for 2012 and is working closely with the artists on realizing the production of the artwork, which will be unveiled during Art Dubai in March 2012.
Shawky is the second Egyptian artist to win the prize after Hala Elkoussy received it in 2010 to produce “Myths & Legends Room,” a 9-by-3 meter photo-collage mural that constructs a narrative of Egyptian history.
Shawky's work usually challenges common perceptions of nomadism, emigration and religion. His widely acclaimed “Telematch” series is but one example, where he challenges readings of history through an adaptation of a German game show widely syndicated across the Arab world in the ‘70s. The series includes: "Telematch Upper Egypt," "Telematch Suburb," "Telematch Sadat," "Telematch Supermarket," and "Telematch Shelter."
Shawky has exhibited widely in Egypt and internationally and has received many awards for his work, including: The International Commissioning Grant from The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York in 2005; The International Award of The Islamic World Arts Initiative in 2004; The American Center Foundation Grant, Philadelphia, in 2004; and the Honorary Award, Rita Longa International Symposium, Bayamo, Cuba, in 2001. In 1996, he won the Grand Nile Prize for 6th Cairo Biennial, and in 2009 won the Grand Prize for 25th Alexandria Biennale.
Last year, Shawky also founded MASS Alexandria, an independent education space for young artists in his hometown.