EU awards secret sum to four Lebanese artists

BEIRUT: Four projects by Lebanese artists were chosen as the winners of an undisclosed sum of money at an award ceremony at the French Cultural Center Tuesday afternoon.

Founded by the European Union National Institutes for Culture, the prize fund was created to promote cultural exchange between Lebanon and the European Union.

Goethe Institute Director and President of the EUNIC Ulrich Nowak was at Tuesday’s news conference to congratulate the four recipients and present them with their winnings. Mohammed Rifai, Nather Halawani, Patrick Mouzawak and Chady Abousleiman were chosen as the winners from among 26 entrants.

The prize money is intended to help the artists in the completion of a specific artistic project. The purpose of the press conference was for the media to witness the artists receive their winnings, but the sum of money awarded to each one was not revealed, leaving those attending in the dark over both the total value of the prize money and how it had been divided among the recipients.

Rifai was selected as a winner for his project “Beirut time without consequences,” a combination of photography and painting that aims to shed light on the artist’s vision of Beirut, one in which reality and the unreal mingle.

Before receiving the envelope containing his winnings, Rifai explained that his project is intended to show the transformations in the city from 1975 to the present.

Halawani’s video work, “Ordinary Days,” sketches a triptych formed of Beirut, its citizens and their intimacies. The wanderings of the population in the city and their interactions with one another will be highlighted in this short film.

Mouzawak’s project, “In Memory With,” is a photographic series studying the correlations between Lebanese living in Lebanon and those living outside of the country. Through a series of more than ten photographs, Mouzawak will try to recreate reality through memories.

Mysteriously, Mouzawak did not receive his winnings at the ceremony. The money donated to fund his project is being sent to him by an undisclosed external source, Nowak explained.

As for Abousleiman, his “Secret Walls” analyze battles between street artists all over the world. His project has been giving life to the walls of Tokyo, New York, London and Beirut for the last six years.

The EUNIC funding will enable him to stage an artistic competition in which viewers can witness two artists battle for 90 minutes. This year’s challenge is happening in Beirut and will take place this August.

With their envelopes in hand, the artists were invited to begin the realization of their projects – presumably in thrall to a deadline that has yet to be announced.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 17, 2014, on page 16.




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