Sharjah Art Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Publishing Grant: Stinking Tree by Areej Ashhab and Ailo Ribas, a collective zine project by Bilna’es (an interdisciplinary publishing platform started by Basel Abbas, Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Muqata’a) and Resurgent Nahda: The Arab Exhibitions in Mandate Jerusalem by Nadi Abusaada.
The winning projects will be co-published by the Foundation and released during Focal Point 2024. In addition to publishing and distribution support, the Foundation provides a total of 30,000 USD to the grantees.
Almost 700 applicants, a significant increase from last year, responded to the international open call earlier this year. The majority of entries came from applicants in India, followed by Egypt, Pakistan, the United States and South Africa. From the total applications, 25% were projects in Arabic, 59% in English, and the rest in other languages (Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Hindi and Urdu). Proposals were received from, or on behalf of, artists, writers, editors, researchers, magazines, zines, collectives, collaborative research projects, museums, publishing houses, journals and non-profit cultural organisations.
Areej Ashhab and Ailo Ribas will publish Stinking Tree, a 4,000-word photo essay in English and Arabic exploring the complex spatialities and ecological nature of the ailanthus altissima, an invasive species of tree introduced to Palestine during the 1960s and 1980s as part of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Forestry and Green Innovations. The publication will invite readers to critically examine the geopolitical and settler colonial mechanisms informing ecological complexities around us. Ashhab, a Palestinian architect, artist and researcher, and Ribas, a Catalan-British writer and researcher, are co-founders and lead researchers at Al-Wah’at, an artist research collective committed to growing communal practices in ecologies typically regarded as hostile and lifeless.
Bilna’es an interdisciplinary publishing platform started by Basel Abbas, Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Muqata’a, will publish four booklets with contributions from artists and writers who investigate the relationship between visual culture and political activation. The publication is inspired by experimental independent publishing initiatives in Palestine, especially Salah El Din Publishing, which operated in Jerusalem for 10 years. As part of the Ma’touq Collective, Abbas and Abou-Rahme have previously produced several publications, including Abu Jildeh and Al Armeet, that shed light on the history and experience of early Palestinian insurgents.
Nadi Abusaada’s project Resurgent Nahda pays tribute to the influential Pan-Arab exhibitions held in the 1930s in Jerusalem at the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah. These exhibitions affirmed the potential for an Arab cultural and economic nahda (renaissance) that was not subject to European colonial influence. The bilingual publication will include essays, primary documents, exhibition visuals and other archival material. The publication is realised in collaboration with Kaph Books, with additional support by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and Barjeel Art Foundation. Abusaada is an architect and historian at ETH Zurich. He was previously the Aga Khan Fellow in Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In addition to the grant-winning projects above, three other proposals stood out for their research-based approach and ability to offer new understandings of critical issues not covered by mainstream publishing. As part of our learning and research endeavours, the Foundation will collaborate with these individuals and institutions to realise their important publications.
The Palestinian Museum’s research and civic engagement project will offer a new perspective on Palestinian cultural history. The two-volume publication comprises annual discursive and scholarly outputs, conference proceedings and research papers produced by the museum. Established in 1997, the Palestinian Museum is a non-governmental association dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic perspective on Palestinian culture in the region and beyond. The Palestine Folk Museum – The Untold Story (1926–2012) is a project by Khaled Khatib, a civil engineer who specialises in the restoration of old buildings in Jerusalem. His project draws parallels between the Palestine Folk Museum, established by a group of British citizens residing in Palestine during the British Mandate era, and the relationship between Palestinians and British colonialists as well as the first waves of intensive Jewish immigration. Filmmaker and producer Mohanad Yaqubi will highlight cinematic production in the Arab world through a 250-page publication on 14 films (1974–1982) by celebrated filmmaker Jocelyn Saab. Yaqubi is the founder of the Ramallah-based production house Idioms Film and founding member of the politically engaged collective Subversive Films.
Sharjah Art Foundation Publishing Grant
The Publishing Grant invites cultural producers in the following fields to submit project proposals: art and cultural scholars, translators, writers, editors, independent publishers and publishing houses, collectives and non-profit institutions. Projects should contribute to the production of original ideas and critical thinking and take an experimental and innovative approach to publishing.
The grant is committed to supporting printed matter that stands out for its intellectual, graphic and material qualities. Sharjah Art Foundation provides a total of 30,000 USD to multiple grantees in addition to publishing and distribution support.