Meet the 17 Visual Arts Grantees for 2021
16 Aug 2021

The AFAC Visual Arts grants program supports artistic works of contemporary and innovative nature, translated in projects that range from installations, to exhibitions, publications and other. This year, 188 applications were received, out of which thirteen individual artists and four institutions/collectives have been selected to receive support.

A committee of readers comprised of Nadia Kaabi-Linke (Tunisia), Vartan Avakian (Lebanon) and Yazid Anani (Palestine) undertook the first-stage evaluation. The final selection was done by the 2021 jury committee, which included Curating and Art Mediation professor Bassam El Baroni (Egypt), artist Bouchra Khalili (Morocco), and artist Rayyane Tabet (Lebanon). The jury deliberations resulted in the selection of 17 projects hailing from 8 Arab countries (Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Syria and Yemen) and the following jury statement:

“The jury for the 2021 AFAC Visual Arts Grant would like to convey the tricky and challenging nature of evaluating this year’s applications to compile the final list of grantees. The ongoing pandemic and its social and political shockwaves have been exacerbated by and intertwined with several local and national crises across the region causing a series of bottleneck situations for many cultural actors and visual arts practitioners. Whilst understanding the incredible resilience of our region, this has nonetheless impacted our discussion and thorough debates leading up to the list of awardees.

What standards and criteria do we uphold in light of this complex web of conditions? Urgency, relevance, and possible impact might not be the best standards in themselves dictating which project deserves support, which is to say we did not use them as outright guideposts. However, their relation to the general quality, creativity, communicability, feasibility, coherence, situatedness, and imaginative characteristics of the proposals were seriously taken into consideration. All in all, this year’s selection process was very demanding to say the least, there were a multitude of exciting and excellent projects that we unfortunately could not support. Our discussions led us to prioritize projects that:

  • Contribute systemic explorations that attempt to fill in gaps in our shared cultural imaginary.
  • Set up platforms to explore new and emerging socio-aesthetic tendencies.
  • Develop innovative models for purposeful social engagement.
  • Engage with recent and ongoing traumas through well-articulated artistic research.
  • Invent ways of entering complex socio-political conversations through performance, publishing, and visualization.
Due to the difficulty of travel we also had to conduct our meetings online across three different time zones, often experiencing technical problems. But the experience was nevertheless extremely enjoyable, enlightening, and very telling of the various trends, shifts, developments, and influences that the field of visual art is undergoing currently, in the region and beyond. We wish all those who didn’t make it this year good luck in near future applications, many of them deserve support and would have received it if the finances permitted. We congratulate all 2021 AFAC Visual Arts grantees for their strong contributions to the field and wish them successful implementation of their proposals.”

As highlighted in the jury statement above, the selected projects were striking in their excellence, and revealing of the various contemporary trends and influences in the visual arts scene of the region. Among the 17 grantees, 7 are female artists versus 6 male artists, 2 are collectives and 2 are institutions; 5 of the artists are in diaspora, compared to 12 artists based in the Arab region. The 4 selected institutions/collectives are based in the Arab region.

The 17 projects selected by the jurors:
The Profession Book: The Collapse of the Contemporary Art Factory - Ahmed Shawky Hassan (Egypt)
Bridging Narratives: An image, an Art Work and a Story - Vera Tamari (Palestine)
Elq - Ahmad Hijazi (Lebanon)
There Is a Blue Sky Today and No Rain - Thana Faroq (Yemen)
Searching for the New Dress - Nour Shantout (Syria)
Barüde - Omar Alaa (Egypt)
The Gold - Sabrina Belouaar (Algeria)
Re-imagining Return to the Marshes – Tamara Abdul Hadi (Iraq)
A Pedagogy of Games - Rami Chahine (Lebanon)
The Queer Arab Glossary – Marwan Kaabour (Lebanon)
As Much as I Can - Mohamed El Mahdaoui (Morocco)
Machi Mashy, or in Other Words "Not Working" – Engy Mohsen (Egypt)
127 Days - Noor Abuarafeh (Palestine)
Art Residencies - General Union of Cultural Centers – Shababek (Palestine)
Publication Mustaqel – 40Mustaqel (Egypt)
Le Flatta 2022: 6th Land Art Festival Tangier Tetouan Al Hoceïma - Zanka90 Association for Culture (Morocco)
Intimacy in the Apocalyptic Phase - Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research (Palestine)

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