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This Lebanese Artist Just Won a Prestigious $200,000 Art Prize

Tarek Atoui

Lebanese artist Tarek Atoui. Photo: Matteo Bellomo Fabrica

Having been awarded USD $200,000 (AED 735,000), Lebanese artist Tarek Atoui is the latest recipient of the prestigious Suzanne Deal Booth/Flag Art Foundation Prize. One of the largest prizes to grace the art world, winners of the Suzanne Deal Booth/Flag Art Foundation Prize are determined by an independent advisory committee comprising renowned curators and art historians from across the US and internationally. Accounting for all expenses including the production and creation of a new piece, recipients of the award have the opportunity to partake in a solo exhibition that premieres at The Contemporary Austin in Texas followed by a presentation at The Flag Art Foundation in New York. Beirut-born Atoui who currently lives in Paris will begin exhibiting in 2022.

With a particular focus on collaboration and community, the Lebanese composer and artist has spent much of his career combining different mediums of art in pursuit of further exploring the human condition. Having started a decade-long residency with the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2008, Atoui’s work has frequently brought him to the Middle East on multiple occasions, with the foundation having announced a major survey of his work titled Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 last year. Albeit postponed due to the pandemic, the exhibition was intended to comprise live sound performances and a residency program for musicians to experiment and produce new work together.

Tarek Atoui

Performance still of Tarek Atoui’s ‘Within’ at the Sharjah Biennial 11, 2013. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation

Working with hard-of-hearing people to create instruments that produce sounds of a physical or virtual nature, Atoui’s ongoing project is titled Within. Showcased in part at the Sharjah Biennial in 2013, the exhibition included a performance informed by traditional Gulf music, as well as the findings from students at the Al Amal School for the Deaf in Sharjah. Speaking to Art News more recently, Atoui noted he is yet to determine how his collaborative approach will fit the mold of coronavirus and social-distancing. “I don’t have the answers for it yet,” he said. “We’re still learning how to live with something like this.”

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