Iman Issa, 18.12.2013, © Foto Santos Román.

First Han Nefkens-MACBA Award is Granted to Iman Issa


Han Nefkens, Bartomeu Marí and Iman Issa, 18.12.2013, © Foto Santos Román.

Jury, © Foto Santos Román.

Bartomeu Marí, © Foto David Campos.


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Iman Issa

The first Fundació HAN NEFKENS MACBA Contemporary Art Award has been granted to Egyptian artist Iman Issa (Cairo, 1979). The purpose of the award is to positively affect a key moment in an artist's career. That the award "also entails a challenge for her artistic practice in terms of rigour and objectiveness" is the aim of the new award established by Fundació Han Nefkens (FHN) and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA): to help to consolidate the career of artists with many years’ experience in this field but needing a definitive backing from the international artistic community. With this new award, addressed to artists of any age group, sex or citizenship, Fundació Han Nefkens and MACBA also wish to foster international artistic contemporary creation, establish complicities and networks to exchange ideas across the five continents, as well as favour the production of new works of art in Barcelona. In this regard, one of the unique aspects of this award is the defining role played by the ten scouts from all over the world. Each one of them selects three artists from their geographical area. Based on this first proposal, including about 30 candidates, the award committee chooses between five and ten finalists, out of which the jury chooses the final winner. The award, a biennial one, is worth a total amount of 50,000 Euros for the winner: 20,000 as emoluments and 30,000 devoted to the production of a new project in Barcelona. Iman Issa will carry out a new work in Barcelona in 2013.

The international jury is made up of five contemporary art experts. In this first edition, two of them are permanent: Han Nefkens, a Dutch writer and collector who lives in Barcelona, and Bartomeu Marí, acting as MACBA’s Director; the other three members (renewable) are: Iwona Blazwik (London), Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery; Adriano Pedrosa (São Paulo), an independent curator, writer and art critic, and Christine Tohmé (Beirut), a curator and cultural activist.

In this first edition of the award, the group of ten scouts was made up of: Defne Ayas (Asia), Zdvenka Badovinac (Slovenia), Abdellah Karroum (Morocco), Sylvia Koubali (Turkey), Gabi Ngcobo (South Africa), Victoria Noorthoorn (Argentina), Manu Park (Korea), Beatriz Pérez (Colombia), Christoph Storz (India) and Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon and Paris).

The reasons given by the jury for its decision are:

1) Iman Issa is an artist who has been able to provide her works with critical and visual maturity, not so common in the artists of her generation.

2) She has been a prolific author of rich works, and has been skilful in making use of different means and techniques with an elaborated formal sense.

3) Her artistic and intellectual career is in full development. Her imagination is fruitful and she has a capacity to attract, question and challenge the viewer.

Iman Issa lives and works in Cairo and New York. She has recently taken part in the collective or solo exhibitions The Ungovernables (New Museum, New York, 2012), Seeing is Believing (KW, Berlin, 2011), Material, Rodeo (Istanbul, 2011), Short Stories (Sculpture Center, New York, 2011) and Propaganda by Monuments (Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo, 2011). Her video works have been screened at several venues, such as Transmediale (Berlin), Tate Modern (London), Spacex (Exeter), Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool) and Bidoun Artists Cinema, Art Dubai (Dubai).

Han Nefkens, © Foto Santos Román.

Iman Issa, Material for a Sculpture Commemorating an Economist whose Name Now Marks the Streets and Squares he Once Frequented, 2011, Part de la sèrie Material (2010-2011), Detall of installation.