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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - DHAHRAN — The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) and Art Dubai announced Saudi-based Fahad Bin Naif as the winner of the third edition of the Ithra Art Prize.
Since its launch in 2017, the Ithra Art Prize has served as a platform to accelerate, empower and promote the work of Saudi contemporary artists on a global scale. In partnership with Art Dubai, Ithra invites all Saudi and Saudi-based artists and collectives to submit proposals via an open call each year.
The winner of the prize receives up to $100,000 to implement their proposed artwork, which will be unveiled at Art Dubai’s 14th edition, happening March 25-28, 2020, before moving to Ithra as part of the center’s growing permanent collection.
Last year, Saudi-born Daniah Al Saleh was announced as the winner of the second edition of the Ithra Art Prize, with her project on display at Art Dubai 2019.
Her project, titled Sawtam, was a digital audio-visual presentation based on the phonemes of the Arabic language, which created a digital wind chime effect.
A testament to the growing impact and notability of the Prize, the third edition of the competition received twice the number of applications as 2019’s edition.
This year’s winning proposal belongs to Fahad and was chosen by a panel composed of Ithra’s curatorial team and international art experts, Eiman Elgibreen, Maya El Khalil, Nada Shabout, Reem Fadda and Tarek Abou El Fetouh.
An artist, architect, urban designer and researcher, Fahad creates art projects with architectural elements and is deeply engaged in the Saudi and regional cultural scene. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Central Saint Martins-University of the Arts London.
Fahad’s installation — Rakhm which means ‘incubation’ in Arabic — aims to conceptually preserve a nursery as both an urban typology and its ‘incubatees’ as an environmental micro-economy.
The title of the installation mirrors both the sensitivity and urgency of the content, safely and carefully incubating an intelligent green infrastructure.
Rakhm is a Polytunnel nursery that mimics the existing urban nurseries in the Kingdom with endemic plants and flowers instead of conventional foreign houseplants.
Unlike most nurseries, however, the viewer can only experience the exterior of the nursery, which mirrors the general local approach to xeriscaping wherein local foliage is not an environmental or aesthetic priority.
The experience of the viewer from the outside also highlights the notion that contextually there is very little interaction between local human inhabitants and local plant-life and the importance on an environmental level of changing this narrative.
Laila Faddagh, head of Ithra Museums, said: “We are thrilled to see the Ithra Art Prize grow in its third edition. Our key commitment remains in encouraging and providing a platform for Saudi- and Saudi-based artistic talent to prosper and flourish, and we are delighted to partner with Art Dubai once more on this Prize.
“The committee’s response to Fahad Bin Naif’s work was enthusiastic, and we were touched by the contextualized thoughtfulness and interdisciplinary approach the artist has taken when developing his concept. We are looking forward to supporting him as he further evolves his work and we anticipate an exciting reveal of Rakhm at Art Dubai 2020.”
Fahad said: "It is an honor and a privilege to have been by selected by the prestigious jury panel as the winner of the Ithra Art Prize 2020. This opportunity, as a Saudi artist and architect who is also quite invested in the cultural, social and urban fabric of our society, is deeply meaningful. Initiatives like the Ithra Art Prize further highlight the Kingdom’s commitment to nurturing artistic talent and building our creative ecosystem both locally and globally."
Fahad Bin Naif will spend the next months finalizing his work, which will be unveiled at Art Dubai and later join Ithra’s permanent art collection.
Ithra, a cultural and creative hub based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, offers programs and compelling experiences while enhancing and showcasing local and global talents. It proudly made TIME Magazine’s 2018 list of one of the world’s best 100 places to visit. — SG
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