Dubai: Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah says she screamed with joy when she heard that she had won the Abraaj Capital Art Prize.
"I was in a crowded hotel lobby in Antalya [Turkey] and I screamed," said the artist, who cut short her holiday and returned to Paris to work on Walking On The Sky. Pisces, which is now on display at Madinat Jumeirah.
"Winning the prize has opened up the world, it makes me see far ahead," she said.
Bouabdellah's work demands the involvement of the spectator, who must physically enter the installation in order to be able to experience it. "It is not interesting from afar; you have to walk on it. When you walk on it, it becomes art."
The work of the 10th century Persian astronomer Abd Al Rahman Al Sufi has provided a key source of inspiration for the piece. "My work is a homage to science, to global intelligence."
Speaking of the influence of Islamic culture in her work, Bouabdellah points to a period between the 9th and 15th centuries, an era to which she would like to return in terms of the expansiveness and inclusivity of Islamic culture. "Islamic culture during that period was like bridges between spaces. We cannot talk about Islamic culture without talking about Africa, India, Southern Spain, China."
The era represents for her a time when the yearning for knowledge transcended boundaries and cultural categories, when the Caliph would invite scholars, regardless of religion or ethnicity, to the Maison du Savoir in Baghdad.
The work can be seen at The Fort, Art Dubai 2009 till March 21. Art Dubai is a subsidiary of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).