Updates from the Emirates: Mathaf’s new director and the Abraaj Prize 2013 Honorees

New director at Mathaf, Abdellah Karroum

New director at Mathaf, Abdellah Karroum

In a summer of never-ending events (art world or otherwise), it’s easy to let an announcement or two slip through (such as the wonderful news of Tate curator Stuart Comer filling what once were Klaus Biesenbach’s shoes as Chief Curator of Performance and New Media at MOMA, or Public Art Fund’s Nicholas Baume joining the team for Miami Basel). Still, we wanted to pause today and catch up with some important shifts in the Emirates. For starters, Doha’s Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art – formerly in the capable hands of Wassan Al-Khudhairi – just announced that they have found their new director: Abdellah Karroum, a bonafide globetrotter, who has honed his chops in tri-/biennales in Paris, Dakar, Benin, Marrakech and Gwangju, while also running the L’appartement 22 project in Rabat. It should be interesting to see how Karroum applies all this experience to Mathaf, a fantastic institution in an admittedly remote setting (though with an already-controversial upcoming Damien Hirst show in Doha, maybe more art traffic from Dubai will start to trickle in?)

Kamrooz Aram, Backdrop for Nostalgic Interiors, 2010-12

Kamrooz Aram, Backdrop for Nostalgic Interiors, 2010-12

In other news, Abraaj Capital has announced the winners of its Abraaj Group Art Prize, an annual honor bestowed on selected artists from the MENASA region, who then create a new work to be displayed at the following year’s Art Dubai. Curated this year by Nada Raza, the five selected nominees are: Abbas Akhavan (Iran), Anup Mathew Thomas (India), Basim Magdy (Egypt), Bouchra Khalili (Morocco) and Kamrooz Aram (Iran). For those of you who don’t recognize these names (- yet -), the ever-insightful Kaelen Wilson-Goldie provides  a rundown here.

Watch Basim’s witty 13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World (a favorite of ours from the Sharjah Biennale) below:

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