Sadik Kwaish Alfraji wins Cairo Biennale prize

Sadik Alfraji. Weeping of the South, 2019. Image courtesy of Ayyam Gallery

Sadik Alfraji. Weeping of the South, 2019. Image courtesy of Ayyam Gallery

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji was awarded part of a one million Egyptian pound ($60,000) prize at the Cairo Biennale, which returned to the Egyptian capital this year after an eight year hiatus.

Alfraji was awarded for his multidisciplinary and moving presentation The River That Was In The South, which discusses his own family history of migration as well as the wider issue of ecological concerns in the Mesopotamian flatlands first appeared in Ayyam Gallery in Dubai in March and April. (Read my initial review here).

A total of 78 artists from 52 countries, including 12 Arab and 15 African countries, participate in the biennale, which runs from June 10 to August 10, 2019. The event’s comeback (it was the first since the 2011 Revolution) was greeted with euphoria across the Egyptian art world.

“It gives a strong message that Egypt is still present and coming back with force on the cultural scene,” said Yasser Mungi, a member of the biennale’s organising committee told The Arab Weekly. “This country will continue to be a meeting point for creative people in all fields.”

Arab countries participating in the biennale include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon. An international jury, headed by Austrian artist Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein and including Catherine David and Annabelle Teneze from France, Amelia Jones from the United States and Teresa Grandas from Spain was brought together for the event and they selected six finalists for the event’s awards. First prize - The Grand Nile Award - went to Belgian artist Joris Van de Moortel. Other awards went to Egyptian sculptor Ahmed al-Badry, South Korean artist Kim Heecheon, Austrian artist Brigitte Kowanz and Jordanian artist Ayman Yosri as well as Alfraji.