The Jameel Prize for Islamic art 2009

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Video Transcript

The Jameel Prize is a new biennial award for contemporary work inspired by Islamic traditions.

Work by the winner and eight other finalists is on display at the V&A until 13th September 2009.


Afruz Amighi, Winner, The Jameel Prize, 2009

Oftentimes the way people view Islamic art is ‘it’s history’. It’s something that is covered in dust it’s quite beautiful, it’s elaborate, it’s amazing, but it’s something that happened in the past. The thing about this exhibit is you see actually the dialogue with this history is alive in contemporary art. It’s finally being recognized is finally being acknowledged. And this is absolutely so important because there is no break in that tradition with Islamic art, it’s a continuum and I think that it’s kind of interrupting the monologue of Western art and changing it into more of a dialogue.


Hassan Hajjaj, Finalist, The Jameel Prize, 2009

You can see that most of the artists even though as we said, most of them don’t maybe live in the country where they’re from, but there’s an understanding of the work that really have to go back to tradition and to come out with something unique.

I was born in Morocco. I grew up there until the age of thirteen in a small town called Narash, a small fishing town.  My Dad came here in the sixties and we followed with my mum, my sisters, in the seventies. This part of work was really a journey of the two worlds in a sense. Living and growing in London and growing up in Morocco.


Susan Hafuna, Finalisy, The Jameel Prize 2009

My fathers’ Egyptian, my mother is German and I was brought up between the two cultures. The cultures are very different and for me it was the only way to express myself beyond one culture to ever like my own voice or own way of expression. If I show this work in the rest of the world people see it just as a pattern that they don’t see any worth. If I show it in the art world the work is changing totally because people are reading something and the whole work has another impact.


Seher Shah, Finalist, The Jameel prize, 2009

I thought all lot about of what the Jameel Prize meant in terms of contemporary Islamic art practice and I think the most incredible thing actually has been to see the diversity of the art practice between all the artists here.  And there is something very important to be said about what is happening in the contemporary world today about artists who are subverting their own cultural baggage and what they have seen. So it is more about what each artist brings. And yes each of the components does have an Islamic, I wouldn’t say core but that’s a fundamental part of this exhibition, but there’s so much here also which is what makes it truly truly exciting.


Hassan Hajjaj, Finalist, The Jameel Prize, 2009

The good thing about the Jameel Prize I think as a prize, it just gives a platform in an establishment like the Victoria and Albert Museum to maybe have a new audience and I think all the artists that have been chosen its been great because it’s a whole offer, there’s a harmony between the work. It’s also really happy that it’s gone away from the kind of expectation from the West to do with the war torn Arab artist. So I think there’s a nice combination of work and I hope it sort of opens up people that normally would not see this work to see something positive and that there is another side to the so called “Arab World.”


Camille Zakharia, Finalist, The Jameel Prize, 2009

In the last few years you can see kind of a renaissance in the Middle East with the number of museums that are opening, the number of artefacts that are happening. Many people now are encouraged to go into fine art programs, which you wouldn’t hear much before. There are art schools opening in the Middle East again, few years ago you wouldn’t hear of.


Why it’s happening? I think the world is opening to each other and you can’t keep isolated and it is a very important element and what thing is at the end is culture. That is the only thing that thing is.

Launched in 2009 with the funding and support of Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, the Jameel prize is a new award for art inspired and influenced by Islamic tradition. For this inaugural prize, a shortlist of nine was drawn from over a hundred nominations. This film shows all the 2009 shortlisted work and features several of the finalists talking about their influences and the significance of the award.