Turkish artist/designer Dice Kayek wins third biennial Jameel Prize with contemporary fashion designs, at V&A London, until 21 April 2014.
£25,000 for half a dress but double the volume on the sleeves
Ece and Ayse Ege, the sisters behind the Turkish fashion house Dice Kayek, won the big prize of £25 grand for ‘Istanbul Contrast’, a trio of striking garments “definitely not for everyday wear” (unless you’re, maybe, Lady Gaga…) which are from their 2010 Spring/Summer collection. To see some of their clothes on live models, check out the short (and somewhat bizarre) video “Dice Kayek Blue” by Marie Schuller [YouTube, 5:25].
Quirky and quixotic interior furnishings
Four of the ten short-listed artists came up with something carpet-y in the Jameel Prize, including:
Faig Ahmed’s series of wonky woollen hand-woven shags that seem to have been Photoshopped whilst still on the loom (one of my favourite items in the room),
a set of tatami-style mats that fit together as a room-filling “Concrete Carpet” by Lebanese designer Nada Debs,
a pair of woven silk tapestries by Rahul Jain, a textile designer and historian from India,
and the five-spice rug called “Beiti [My home]” by Laurent Mareschal, which disappears by bits every time someone exhales half-way near it.
Arabic calligraphy, re-invented
Of course, as one might anticipate from an exhibition of Islamic arts, there are works inspired by the written word:
- Pascal Zoghbi’s collection of new typography showing the 29 letters of the Arabic alphabet
- a large-scale drawing made of thousands of teeny-tiny marks by Pakistani artist Waqas Khan
- Arabic text by Nasser al-Salem with “Kul”, a single word hand-painted on a large piece of paper that translates from Arabic to mean “all [everything]”).
And then there’s the unexpected calligraphy-based piece, part of another installation by Mounir Fatmi entitled “Modern Times: A History of the Machine“, projected on the wall 20 feet wide, in which the gear-wheels are actually endlessly spinning designs of Arabic phrases. Through sound and moving image, the piece refers to “…ramshackle cities [in the Middle East that] grow without stopping, while prestige building projects are commissioned on an inhuman scale as displays of power.”
Don’t forget accessories to go with the outfit
The final pieces in this year’s Jameel Prize are the result of a collaborative project between artist/designer Florie Salnot and UK-based charity organisation Sandblast Arts. Cases of intricate necklaces designed by Salnot and crafted by women of tribes in the Western Sahara round out the show, and they seem the perfect accompaniment to Dice Kayek’s fashions displayed nearby. By the way, the “gold” ornaments made by North African Saharawi refugees come from discarded plastic bottles which are painted gold before they are moulded with hot sand, finely carved by hand and assembled into dramatic and beautiful jewellery.
This exhibition is well worth a spare 10 minutes, especially if you’re already in the V&A and want to see how artists and designers from the Middle East and Asia subvert traditional Islamic arts into something delightfully contemporary. Art reviewer for The Guardian Jonathan Jones writes, “art and design ‘inspired by Islamic tradition’ might seem to be inherently limiting its own field…and yet the terrific art here proves the Jameel prize is really on to something.” I’m with Jones on this one!
More links and information
- All about the Jameel Prize 3 – 2014 – at the V&A – including interviews with the 10 shortlisted artists and more info
- Learn more about Sandblast Arts – Voices and Visions from Western Sahara, a charity that promotes human rights for Western Saharan refugee/nomadic populations
- Review in the Metro by Oliver Jones “Jameel Prize 3 has a selection of thought-provoking art inspired by Islam” – 11 December 2013 – 3/5 stars
- Jonathan Jones of the Guardian reviews the “Jameel Prize: a sexy, scintillating vision of modern Islamic art” – 12 December 2013 – 5/5 stars
- “The Jameel Prize at the V&A – exhibition review” by Katie Richardson on Female Arts online magazine – 11 December 2013 – “…a sense of the inspiration of Islamic form and tradition, the women exhibiting on equal terms with the men but somehow eclipsing them…”
- Related article in BLOUIN ArtInfo: “Late flowering: the cultural aftershocks of the Arab Spring” by Lora Moftah
Exhibition details: Jameel Prize 3 exhibition is on at the V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL from 11 December 2013 thru 21 April 2014. Free admission.
Editor’s note: Spelling error(s) corrected; updated links to each artist’s name (07/04/2014)