Lebanese artist Tarek Atouni wins $200,000 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize

Lebanese artist Tarek Atouni wins $200,000 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize
The Beirut-born artist will receive $200,000 and will present a solo exhibition in spring 2022. (Photo credit: Matteo Bellomo Fabrica)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Lebanese artist Tarek Atouni wins $200,000 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize

Lebanese artist Tarek Atouni wins $200,000 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize

DUBAI: Lebanese contemporary artist and composer Tarek Atouni has been announced as the latest recipient of the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize, one of the most important art awards in the US. 

The Beirut-born artist, who currently lives in Paris, will receive $200,000 and will present a solo exhibition in spring 2022 at The Contemporary Austin art museum in Texas.

In fall 2022, the show will take place at the FLAG Art Foundation in New York.

In addition to the cash prize and the fair, Atouni will also work on a scholarly exhibition catalog and public programming for the foundation and the museum.

Atouni’s largest solo show to date, “Cycles in 11,” will open later this year in the UAE’s Sharjah Art Foundation.




The 40-year-old artist has been collaborating with the UAE’s Sharjah Art Foundation for over a decade. (Sharjah Art Foundation)

Previously scheduled from March to June 2020, the exhibition will now be opening in autumn 2020 and will run for an extended period of six months.

The 40-year-old artist has been collaborating with the foundation for over a decade.

During the exhibition, the heritage house Bait Al Serkal, located in one of the oldest areas in the city of Sharjah, will operate as both a sound lab and a performance and listening space informed by the local tradition of hospitality.

“Cycles in 11” will also be the starting point for a regional and international residency program that will extend into 2022. Musicians, composers and artists will be invited to develop new work for the residency, either individually or with different audiences in Sharjah.


Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home
Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program. (Supplied)
Updated 24 January 2021

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home

Post revolution, Sudanese cinema struggles to find recognition at home
  • Bashir’s government aborted all cultural and artistic initiatives and fought ... diversity and freedom of opinion, says Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program

CAIRO: Sudanese filmmakers who celebrated the end of stifling restrictions following the ouster of autocrat Omar Bashir have won multiple international awards but are yet to enjoy the same recognition at home.
Cinema languished in the North African country through three decades of authoritarian rule by Bashir.
But Sudanese took to the streets to demand freedom, peace and social justice, and Bashir’s ironfisted rule came to an end in a palace coup by the army in April 2019.
“We started realizing how much our society needs our dreams,” said director Amjad Abou Alala.
His 2019 film “You Will Die at Twenty” was both Sudan’s first Oscar entry and the first Sudanese film broadcast on Netflix, winning prizes at international film festivals including Italy’s Venice and Egypt’s El Gouna.
The film tells the story of a young man a mystic predicts will die at age 20. As Sudan undergoes a precarious political transition, the country’s filmmakers have found more space to operate, Alala said.
Young filmmakers act “without the complexes, the lack of self-confidence or the frustration that we suffered in previous generations,” he added.
Talal Afifi, director of the Khartoum-based Sudan Film Factory program, has trained hundreds of young people in filmmaking.
Bashir’s government “aborted all cultural and artistic initiatives and fought ... diversity and freedom of opinion, through policies of alleged Islamization and Arabization,” he said.
Afifi began work long before the 2019 revolution, with advances in digital camera technology making filmmaking far more accessible.
The filmmaker attended a 2008 short film festival in Munich, where the winning film — an Iraqi documentary shot on a handy-cam — inspired him to return home and set up a training center and production house.
In the past decades, the Film Factory has organized some 30 screenwriting, directing and editing workshops — and produced more than 60 short films, honored in international festivals from Brazil to Japan.
Afifi says the roots of Sudan’s innovative cinema was born from the “hard work dating from before” Bashir’s overthrow, when many cinemas were closed.
Today, cinemas are allowed — big-budget Hollywood films, as well as Indian and Egyptian movies are popular — but moves to reopen them have been frustrated by restrictions to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Sudanese National Museum organized screenings of films, including “You Will Die at Twenty,” but they were not screened in large theaters.
Filmmakers still face challenges. Hajjooj Kuka, director of the acclaimed 2014 “Beats of the Antonov” was jailed for two months last year for causing a “public nuisance” — for what he said was an acting workshop.
Other Sudanese films have also garnered international attention, including the 2019 documentary “Talking About Trees” by Suhaib Gasmelbari, which tells the story of four elderly Sudanese filmmakers with a passion for movies.
The quartet and their “Sudanese Film Club” work to reopen an open-air cinema in Omdurman, the city across the Nile from the capital Khartoum.