Lawrence Abu Hamdan Wins Abraaj Group Art Prize

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Oct 23 2017 / 21:24 PM

The Berlin-based sound and installation artist will conceive a work to go on display during Art Dubai in March 2018, reports Rebecca Anne Proctor

Lawrence Abu Hamdan Wins Abraaj Group Art Prize
Photo by Helena Schlichting, Courtesy Portikus, Frankfurt/Main and Maureen Paley, London
Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Earshot. 2016. Exhibition view, Portikus, Frankfurt/Main, 2016

One of the world’s largest monetary art prizes, the Abraaj Group Art Prize (AGAP), recognises artists from the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, awarding $100,000 to the winner to realise a “dream project,” according to a press release. British-Lebanese winner Abu Hamdan, who is from Beirut and currently works in Berlin, is known for his video and installation work about sound. Focusing on the role of noise and silence in states of conflict, the artist’s immersive work explores how hearing can be used as a means for activism. Shortlisted for this year’s prize are Basma Alsharif, Neïl Beloufa, and Ali Cherri. Their work will be displayed alongside Abu Hamdan’s in a group exhibition curated by Myriam Ben Saleh during Art Dubai.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

“I am delighted to be chosen as the winner of the Abraaj Group Art Prize, especially in light of this being the 10th anniversary of an award that has been granted to many excellent artists over the years,” Abu Hamdan said in a statement. “The prize allows me to produce and conceive a work using materials and technologies previously unavailable to me, and in doing so enables me to deepen my exploration of the most contemporary ways of seeing and hearing our world.”

Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Saydnaya (ray traces) (detail). 2017. © Lawrence Abu Hamdan, courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Abu Hamdan’s interest in sound and its relationship with politics stems from his background in DIY music. The artist has worked on audio analyses for legal investigations at the UK Asylum Tribunal and advocacy for organisations like Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. Additionally, his forensic audio investigations are carried out as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College, London, where he working on his Doctorat. “With my work I am trying to always be at the very edge of the emerging technologies and materials that allow us to see and hear the world in different ways,” adds Abu Hamdan.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan. A Convention of Tiny Movements. 2015. Spinneys Supermarket, Achrafieh Beirut August 2017, 2015. C-type print mounted to aluminium. 110 x 195 cm. © Lawrence Abu Hamdan, courtesy Maureen Paley, London

“What this prize allows [me] to do is to really engage with practitioners, be they scientists or people developing new kinds of ways of documenting and registerin—different kinds of acoustic and visual phenomenon, and to actually work directly with them and create a work that really has the means to be where I need it to be.” Abu Hamdan’s Rubber Coated Steel (2016) won the short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2017 and his exhibition Earshot at Portikus Frankfurt (2016) was the recipient of the 2016 Nam June Paik Award. He was also shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award this year.

For more information, visit