On Time, Space, Ecology and Exile: Meet our Visual Arts 2023 Grantees
2 / 10 / 2023

An ecological study from Palestine on the cochineal insect across multiple geographies, communities and temporalities. A Yemeni video art piece that reflects on the return from exile and the quest for roots and identity. A series of articles and discussions in Jordan that imagine the architectural archive in the future as a decolonized and deinstitutionalized one.

These are just a few of the projects supported through our 2023 Visual Arts grant program. Eighteen projects were selected for support this year, out of a record pool of 424 applications received. The Visual Arts 2023 jury committee, composed of Palestinian curator, researcher and cultural organizer Reem Shadid, Egyptian artist Doa Aly and Tunisian artist Nidhal Chamekh, convened for two days in AFAC’s offices in Beirut to evaluate the applications. Following is the jury statement, highlighting the context, concerns and questions that accompanied the jurors in their selection process:

    "It has been our honor to be tasked with the challenging responsibility of selecting projects to receive support for the AFAC 2023 visual arts grant. It was an enriching experience but also fraught with heavy questions. In this first year of what can be considered truly post-pandemic, it has been important and eye-opening to understand the concerns, questions, limitations, and interests of practitioners in and from our region. The pool of applicants for this year was from different generations but gave clear indications of the ongoing demographic changes in the region due to the political and economic conditions, namely the more recent migration and exile of many. With very ambitious projects that, at times, seemed discordant for lack of clarity and synthesis between concept and form, we nevertheless felt that applicants were still reeling from the dilemmas of the last three years. The issue of space that COVID imposed on many — or more accurately the lack of access to (working/living) space and being confined in small homes, etc. — seems to have been a factor for many to consider ephemeral or non-object productions, for example. The applicants also seemed to continue the serious concern and search for self-sustaining economic models and ecosystems within the field by imagining new forms of engagement. The contradictions have been many and the grasp of the time needed to fully develop projects has been lacking, which poses the question of whether there is a new formula to process our changing relationship with time and the systems that uphold it. Is there a way to accelerate support while allowing projects their innate duration? Within our process, we tried to consider the many factors that have made this year’s selection difficult. We factored in local struggles versus the difficulties of artists operating in exile and the lack of social and professional networks of many there. We considered the limitations for those who chose to stay or had no choice to leave their localities. We considered practices from different generations and projects in different mediums with a particular inclination toward interdisciplinary works involving pedagogical elements and having wider reach. But most of all, our selection process was guided by the sincerity and clarity of the proposals and the applicants’ commitment regardless of the availability of financial resources. We felt that this honesty of intent and clarity of thought are indicative of a daily, ongoing reflection on the part of the applicant, on their ideas, situation, position, and direction. After closely reviewing all the applications, our sense is that rigorous discipline and ritual are the incubators of clarity and sincerity, which are much needed today in the midst of the chances of being distracted, absorbed, and appropriated by global systems of thought.

    Congratulations to the recipients of this year's grants. We're very excited to see how the projects will develop, and we hope those who were not successful this year continue their commitment and work despite the limited resources.

This year’s 18 projects explore time and space in their various representations; delve into migration and exile and the many questions that these entail with regards to belonging, roots and identity; address ecological issues and the questions that the future brings; all of them using a rich variety of mediums, ranging from photo books, to art videos, installations and others.

Here is the full list of Visual Arts 2023 projects. To dive into the specifics of each selected artist or collective/institution and their projects, click through to their separate dedicated pages.