Inspired by themes of Islamic traditions, the Jameel Prize 6 has been awarded to Riyadh-based multidisciplinary artist Ajlan Gharem for his architectural installation Paradise Has Many Gates, an interpretative piece constructed from chain-link wire that seeks to provide a transparent and open place for people to witness Islamic prayer and the Muslim faith.
Initially showcased in 2015, the life-sized interactive installation has the structure of a mosque, but mimics the form of a cage, and is made from the same steel fencing often used for enclosures and border disputes, symbolizing the exposure of the inner workings of religious and political authorities. The structure also houses a traditional Middle Eastern style rug and has been used as a prayer space, a place of reflection and a place to practice yoga and exercise.
Paradise Has Many Gates was originally erected in the Saudi desert, an hour outside of Riyadh, and was initially meant to become the subject of a film that would then be presented internationally at art galleries from around the world.
An elementary school math teacher and artist, Gharem founded the non-profit arts organisation Gharem Studio in 2013 with his brother Abdulnasser, which helps to bring up and support young artists in the kingdom. The Jameel Prize is the artist’s first major art accolade.
Since its founding in 2009, the Jameel Prize has become the world’s leading award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. In 2021, the £25,000 prize became a triennial award with each cycle dedicated to a single discipline.
Alongside Gharem, eight finalists were shortlisted from over 400 applications, including Golnar Adili, Iranian-born Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist; Kallol Datta, a multidisciplinary designer from Kolkata; Farah Fayyad, a graphic designer from Beirut; Sofia Karim, Bangladesh-born London-based architect and artist; Jana Traboulsi, Lebanese artist, designer and educator; Bushra Waqas Khan, Pakistani printmaker; and the UAE’s own Hadeyeh Badri, alumnus of SEAF and Tashkeel, co-founder of Möbius Design Studio in Dubai. Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics will run from Saturday until Sunday, November 28, at the Porter Gallery, V&A, London.
Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics will run from Saturday until Sunday, November 28, at the Porter Gallery, V&A, London.
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