Adel Abidin has been awarded the 2023 Ithra Art Prize for his proposed artwork On, which explores the connections between history, memory and identity. He will receive $100,000 to produce and deliver the work, which will become part of Ithra’s permanent collection.
On revolves around the Zanj Rebellion of Abbassid-era Iraq and draws on oral accounts of the event that reveal how the historical narrative has been altered from one source to the other.
“As I delve into the intangible aspects of history, I am confronted with the challenge of scarce reliable archival sources,” said Abidin. “This challenge is especially present in the context of Arab history, where much remains shrouded in ambiguity, allowing for a broad range of interpretations and augmentations. In studying the Zanj rebellion of 869AD in Iraq, I find a captivating example of this complexity.”
Abidin was hand-picked by a jury of international and regional experts from the contemporary art scene including art historian and gallery owner Dr. Andrée Sfeir-Semler; Balqees Fakhro, one of Bahrain’s most prominent artists; Farah Abushullaih, Head of Museum at Ithra; art critic, curator and art historian Murtaza Vali; and Dr. Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chair of Middle East and North Africa at Christie’s.
The Ithra Art Prize was established in 2017 to support the talent of established contemporary artists and art collectives in the Arab world. Previous winners include Ayman Zedani (2018), Daniah Al Saleh (2019), Fahad bin Naif (2020) and Nadia Kaabi-Linke (2021).