Tamayouz Excellence Award

Tamayouz Excellence Award announces the shortlist of the Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art

Tamayouz Excellence Award is delighted to announce the shortlist of finalists for the Inaugural Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art.

The prize seeks transformative permanent and temporary projects of all types ranging from murals, sculptures, monuments, urban performances, installations, public spaces, graffiti, architecture and planning. These artworks should not be exhibited in private spaces or as part of private collections, but rather in public spaces ensuring their accessibility to wider communities.  It is the newest addition to the Tamayouz Excellence Award programme that champions the best of architecture in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, the prize is named after the internationally celebrated Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi, one of the pioneers of modern Arab art, and will run bi-annually.

The Prize is given to artworks within the urban context that have had a transformative impact on their community in the Arab World between 2016 and 2021.

Excellence is the fundamental criterion of the Dia al-Azzawi for Public Art: Shortlisted entries were submissions that achieved excellence through transformative impact on the project’s environment, excellence through design, narrative, engagement, materials and technique. Particular attention was given to public art projects representing modern times’ spirit or collective feeling.

The members of the jury for the Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art are:

Claudia Linders – The Netherlands: Dutch architect, curator and visual artist. In 2001, she founded Atelier Claudia Linders, a studio that offers interdisciplinary research and design services in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Claudia holds various advisory and managerial positions, such as the Chair of Stadscuratorium, the Amsterdam City Curatorium for art in public space; the Visual Arts Committee and the Cultural Advisory Committee of the Municipality of Nijmegen. She is Chair of the Examination Board at the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) and a member of the advisory board of the Oase Journal for Architecture. Claudia Linders has curated several international transdisciplinary exhibitions and programmes and coordinated the Interdisciplinary Design Studies of the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture.

Mahmoud Obaidi – Iraq/Canada: An Iraqi-Canadian artist whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. After leaving Iraq in 1991, Mahmoud obtained his master’s of fine arts at the University of Guelph in Canada, & completed diplomas in new media and film from Toronto & Los Angeles, respectively.  Mahmoud curated more than 40 shows in different spaces around the world.

Philip Michael Wolfson – USA/UK: After studying architecture at Cornell University in Ithica, New York, American designer and architect Philip Michael Wolfson attended the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where he met Zaha Hadid. After completing his studies, he spent 10 years as head of design with Hadid and in 1991, he established his studio. He has worked throughout Europe and the US on residential interiors and functional art pieces, which have been shown at leading international art and design exhibitions, galleries and public venues worldwide.


The Shortlist

The shortlist consists of 6 submissions from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, and Qatar and were selected out of 41 submissions received from around the Arab world, and they are (arranged alphabetically):

Al-Tahrir Tunnel – Tishreen Uprising* Artists
Artwork Type: Graffiti

The Graffiti of Al-Tahrir Tunnel were created during the Tishreen 2019 Uprising in Iraq, the murals were made by various young artists and spanned the length of both sides of the tunnel under the famous Al-Tahrir square in the centre of Baghdad.

The uncurated spontaneous graffiti had different themes some of them portraying the dire conditions of the country, the violent response towards the demonstrators, the international silence on atrocities committed by the government and others communicating the slogans of the protests such as “we want a nation” and “It is a Peaceful protest”.

The artwork represents the peaceful and aspiring spirit of the Tishreen Uprising and the collective feeling of generations of Iraqis who feel homeless in their homeland.

*Tishreen Uprising refers to the 2019 October Uprising that took place throughout Southern and central Iraq.

Celebration of Life – Sinan Hussein
Artwork Type: Mural

The mural celebrated the life of those who passed and those who are still living. It was created to signify the spirit of life in the eye of spring’s revelation. A Mural like the Celebration of Life depicts Sinan Hussein’s creatures laughing, loving, dancing, praying and wondering in a state of love and peacefulness. This mural was intended to cheer people and give them something to smile and be positive about whenever they pass by it.

The significance of this Mural is manifested in the fact that we do not need a specific day to celebrate life and the miracle of life and what it brings to us. Celebrating life is not only limited to birthdays and anniversaries. “Celebration of life” was created to be a reminder of continuity, growth and resilience to anyone who passes by it or sees it live or on social media.

Family Reunion – Abdul Aziz Yousef
Artwork Type: Mural

“Family Reunion” encapsulates the Qatari habits of extended family gatherings that take place at families’ homes or often the grandfather’s house. Although sharing the household, the various generations come together with different thoughts and beliefs while maintaining warm connections.

It has touched a variety of people’s cultures and beliefs and celebrates harmony and love.

Flatland – Studio Mais Alazab
Artwork Type: Installation

Flatland Pavilion is a multi-faceted architectural installation and a play on geometrical orders and structural potentials.

In a city like Amman where public spaces are scarce and underutilized, Flatland Pavilion was created as an act of activation and beautification of a formal outdoor setting. Installed at the lower plaza of Al Hussein Cultural Center in the context of Amman Design Week 2017, Flatland aimed at connecting the public more with the outdoor space through their engagement with the sculptural poetics of the pavilion.

Photos a La Chair – Ali Karimi and Camille Zakharia
Artwork Type: Public Performance

Photos à la Chair is a public art installation in Bahrain, that aims to bring the public, art and photography together. Lebanese artist Camille Zakharia, and Bahraini architect Ali Ismail Karimi organise this interactive public installation one weekend a month, collaborating with an artist each time to stage a three-hour photography session in different locations around Bahrain.

The event acts almost as an incubator for different public spaces – activating them, experimenting and bringing people to places they would rarely go otherwise. The mixture of locations and artists allows the event to bridge different ethnicities, races and backgrounds. As a temporary installation of Photos, A la Chair aims to break down boundaries between art and the public and between different communities around the Gulf.

Symphony of absence by Dina Haddadin
Artwork Type: Site-specific installation

Symphony of absence is part of a 7-year research project “Island 861”, an Ammani neighbourhood, which represents the symbolic cleansing of a marginalized “informal” settlement,”. The Hay Al Qaysieh is a settlement which was first settled by a group of Palestinian refugees in the 1950s on unplanned agricultural land and has been undergoing systematic displacement, destruction and demolition to cater for a utopian capitalist vision for the valley that separates east and west Amman, were concepts of modernity justifying ‘destruction’ with ‘progression’, or as “the price of progress”.

The installation touches on the level of the “invisible”, a site-specific installation made out of a series of 9 Aeolian wind harps aligned as a monument of fragments; resembling the power, the edge, the margin, and the periphery that creates the island in our cities, the invisible boundaries, a monument of contemplation.

Sounds choreographs the “emptiness” that has been generated from wiping out the neighbourhood, through the passing wind, which plays an egoless symphony, a symphony with no creator or ego, played by the non-existent or the invisible for the pass-biers to enjoy in memory of the history of the families and their lives that once existed on these grounds.

The founding director of the Tamayouz Excellence Award and Coventry University academic, Ahmed Al-Mallak, said: “Congratulations to the finalists. We are delighted with the panel’s selection and proud to highlight these artworks and their contributions to their environments. Even though there will be a single award, the award aims to recognise these works, create visibility for them and stimulate debate around the value of their contributions among professionals.

Excellence is the fundamental criterion of the Dia al-Azzawi for Public Art: Shortlisted entries were submissions that achieved excellence through transformative impact on the project’s environment, excellence through design, narrative, engagement, materials and technique. Particular attention was given to public art projects representing modern times’ spirit or collective feeling.”

The winner’s announcement will be made in November 2022 and the winner will receive their prize at the 10 Annual Ceremony in Muscat – Oman, in January 2023. 

Tamayouz Excellence Award is sponsored by Coventry University, the Iraqi Business Council in Jordan, Kufa – Makiya Charity, Dewan Architects + Engineers, Ayad Al-Tuhafi Architects, Bonair Ltd, British Airways and the United Nations Global Compact – Iraq Network.

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