Tamayouz Excellence Award

Dia Al-Azzawi Prize for public art 2022

Tishreen Uprising’s artworks win the inaugural Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art in the Arab World

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

The Public Art Prize 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 biennially.

The winner of the Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art is Al-Tahrir Tunnel’s Graffiti by Tishreen Uprising Artists. The prize also recognises two highly commended artworks this year, Flatland, a multi-faceted architectural installation by the Amman-based Studio Mais Al Azab and Symphony of absence, an installation part of “Island 861” a research project by Jordanian architect and artist Dina Haddadin.

The judges met virtually to determine the prize’s finalists and winners. The jury looked for artworks within the urban context that had a transformative impact between 2016 and 2021.

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

  • Claudia Linders: Architect and Chair of Stadscuratorium, the Amsterdam City Curatorium for art in public space – The Netherlands
  • Mahmoud Obaidi: Artist – Iraq/Canada
  • Philip Michael Wolfson: Architect and Artist – USA/UK

More information can be found about each judge on Tamayouz’s jury panel page.

The shortlist consisted of six works from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, and Qatar and were chosen out of 41 submissions from around the Arab world. They are:

  • Al-Tahrir Tunnel – Tishreen Uprising Artists – Iraq
  • Celebration of Life – Sinan Hussein – Bahrain
  • Family Reunion – Abdul Aziz Yousef – Qatar
  • Flatland – Studio Mais Al Azab – Jordan
  • Photos a La Chair – Ali Karimi and Camille Zakharia – Bahrain
  • Symphony of absence – Dina Haddadin – Jordan

More information can be found about the shortlist in this press release.

The Winners of the 2022 Dia al-Azzawi Prize for Public Art

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

The Graffiti artworks 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, which was the beating heart of the nationwide uprising.

The Graffiti represents the peaceful and aspiring spirit of the October uprising and the collective feeling of hundreds of thousands of young protestors and millions of Iraqis worldwide. These murals were uncurated, and each artist painted what expressed their vision of the role of art in the protests without prior coordination with the rest of the artists, which gave these murals a spontaneous dimension emanating from the spirit and events of the uprising.

Jury comment:

We are impressed by the strength of this movement, which shows the power of the informal collective. The use of art here is noble and selfless.

Al-Tahrir Tunnel artworks are important on two levels; local and international.  Locally, these murals emerged at a time when the uprising and protest were portrayed as violent, and the demonstrators were aggressive and trying to disrupt the general peace; this was the excuse the government forces used to suppress the demonstrators, meanwhile the young artists who occupied at Al-Tahrir square were peaceful and engaged in different nonviolent activities.

Internationally, these murals got the attention of the international press, and it was the activity that captured the moment and conveyed a true image of the current situation in Iraq and the October Uprising.

Relevant to all, this participatory event brought together a united group of varied ages and sexes with one common goal – to use their art to make a larger statement with a desire for a positive change.

Highly Commended: Flatland by Studio Mais Al Azab

Artwork Type: Installation


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

Jury comment:

“A stunningly successful blend of architecture and art, with ideas in place that are both subtle and elegant in their relevance to regional historical typologies. It is quite exciting to see how the shadows work with the ephemeral pavilion.  Flatland raises a question about functional sculptures and how they interact with their surrounding”.

Highly Commended: 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 marginalised “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 had 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”.

Jury comment:

“A noble and impressive objective where the ideas of absence, demolition and displacement have been achieved through the installation and the rebellious text of the research.”

The founding director of the Tamayouz Excellence Award and Coventry University academic, Ahmed Al-Mallak, said: “Congratulations to the finalists, the highly commended and winners. We are delighted with the panel’s selection and proud to highlight these artworks and their contributions to their environments.

Tishreen artists are acknowledged here as a movement rather than individual artists. This movement captured the spirit of the October Uprising, and now it takes its rightful place in the history of Iraqi art.

We hope the selection of the finalist artworks and the winner will encourage meaningful public art that addresses our current issues and future challenges, celebrates life, represent the spirit of our times and positively contribute to the advancement of public art in the Arab world.“ 

Tamayouz Excellence Award is sponsored by Coventry University, the Iraqi Business Council in Jordan, Kufa – Makiya Charity, Dewan Architects + Engineers,  Bonair Ltd, British Airways and the United Nations Global Compact – Iraq Network, Round City Magazine and Omani Society of Engineers.

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