Sophia Al-Maria wins inaugural Dunya Contemporary Art Prize

The Dunya prize is presented to a mid-career artist from the Middle East or its diaspora. (Sophia Al-Maria and Third Line Gallery)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Sophia Al-Maria wins inaugural Dunya Contemporary Art Prize

  • The Dunya prize is presented to a mid-career artist from the Middle East or its diaspora
  • Al-Maria was selected as the recipient of the prize by “an international jury of experts in the field of contemporary Middle Eastern art”

DUBAI: Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) launched its biennial Dunya Contemporary Art Prize last Monday. The first winner is Qatari-American artist, writer and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria.

The Dunya prize is presented to a mid-career artist from the Middle East or its diaspora. Its goal, according to a press release, is “to foster contemporary artists from the Middle East whose work is rigorous, challenging and unconventional.”

Al-Maria certainly fits that description. The artist coined the term “Gulf Futurism” to describe her take on the social shifts that have taken place due to dramatic economic growth in the GCC.

Al-Maria told the Chicago Tribune she was “gobsmacked” by the award (and the $100,000 she receives as its winner, along with an exhibition at the MCA and a catalog) and said it could enable her to complete projects that had faltered in the past due to a lack of funding. She also suggested that her focus may now shift from the Gulf to “some of the questions about America that I’ve been thinking about,” as she feels she is “no longer concerned” with Gulf Futurism as a concept.

“My whole life in a way is a project of, I guess, moving away from designated cultural identities and moving it onto some other plane where one can attempt to not be, perhaps, a Middle Eastern artist or an American artist or a Qatari artist and just be someone who is working,” she told the newspaper.

Al-Maria was selected as the recipient of the prize by “an international jury of experts in the field of contemporary Middle Eastern art,” the MCA said. The jury was led by Omar Kholeif, MCA Manilow senior curator and director of global initiatives.

“Al-Maria’s practice illustrates the diversity of ways that artists are working in the twenty-first century,” the jury wrote in a statement. “Her critical insights into contemporary culture, examining histories of science fiction, feminism, and the global socio-political condition, feel more urgent now than ever.”


The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

Maison Rabih Kayrouz SS'19.(AFP)
Updated 27 min 32 sec ago
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The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

DUBAI: Lebanese fashion house Maison Rabih Kayrouz unveiled its 2019 spring/summer haute couture collection at Paris Couture Week on Monday, after receiving haute couture status from the French Couture Federation in December.

Golden touch
The Lebanese designer created this knitted sweater with a golden metallic tint and paired it with a flowy maxi skirt embellished with delicate lace in this decadent look.

Warming up
This look featured a camel-colored fleece suit, with a transparent mesh top embellished with golden filigree work. The geometric folds of the jacket took this look from “meh” to memorable.

Fern green queen
A candy cane-striped shirt was paired with jewel-toned, wide-cut silky pants in this causal yet elegant daytime look.

Chartreuse muse
This high-necked chartreuse dress featured cuffed, bell sleeves and was paired with matching shoes for a sumptuous sartorial statement.

Cream dream
A cream-colored, princess-cut dress, the ribbed fabric on this chic number gave it a certain edginess — as did the exaggeratedly high collar.

Work it
This look featured bat sleeves with delightful, cutting-edge slits running up the crisp white sleeves. The office-appropriate statement top, with its on-trend dog collar, was matched with simple, wide-legged black pants and flat ballet slippers.