This double publication offers further investigation into the work of the recipients and shortlisted artists of ninth installment of The Abraaj Group Art Prize (Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled, Basir Mahmood, and award-winning artists duo Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme).
Syntax and Society, the first volume, reflects on the exhibition premise that considered the structure and meaning of language and the role it plays in society, with a focus on the work of the three shortlisted artists, Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled, and Basir Mahmood. Danish playfully questions how language is structured by working with tongue-twisters and phrases from popular cinema; Khaled reflects on the relationship between artistic forms and political history to reconsider the representations of class and stereotypes in public space; and Mahmood deliberates on the notion of beginning and endings, from the sending of letters that are never received to situations where disused artifacts of one culture are newly adapted by another.
The second volume, Oh Shining Star Testify, focuses on the work of award-winning artist duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. Their new video work commissioned for the prize, Only the beloved keeps our secrets, examines how modern day technologies can enable a continued existence for the deceased. Found material from a variety of sources, including images, texts and testimonies, are collaged together to suggest a Palestinian narrative of collective history. This book additionally includes a glossary of quotations from the various philosophical and literary writers that have informed this duo's working process, as well as images from their previous trilogy of video and installation works.
Nav Haq, curator of this year's prize, presents commentary in both volumes to offer an insightful guide to the practices of these artists.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition “Syntax and Society” at Art Dubai, March 16-19, 2016.