Dubai artist collective wins inaugural $20,000 Black Mountain College Prize

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian will receive the grant alongside the opportunity to develop their practice at the historic BMC campus

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian are key figures in the UAE art community. Photo: Sebastian Boettcher
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Iranian artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian have been named winners of the inaugural Black Mountain College Prize.

The three UAE residents, who work as a collective, will receive the $20,000 grant dedicated to international artists working in the spirit of Black Mountain College.

An experimental college founded in Black Mountain, North Carolina, in 1933, BMC was built around the education principles of US psychologist John Dewey, a proponent of holistic learning and the study of art as essential to a liberal arts education.

'Where to? Wherever It Chances' (2019) by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian. Photo: NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

The school’s faculty and students have included luminary figures including Josef and Anni Albers, Charles Olson, Ruth Asawa, as well as Willem and Elaine de Kooning. The school was closed in 1957 owing to funding issues. Its legacy, however, has been preserved and augmented by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Centre, organiser of the BMC Prize.

Alongside the prize fund, BMC Prize artists will have the opportunity to develop their practice and visit the historic BMC campus at Lake Eden. They will also spend four days at the museum and arts centre, with a tour of the exhibitions and archival support at the museum and neighbouring Western Regional Archives.

The history of the Haerizadeh brothers and Rahmanian traces back to the early 1990s, when the three artists met in underground art classes in Iran as the country was recovering from the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War.

Their collaborative multidisciplinary practice began to take shape at the turn of the century in Tehran. The three artists moved to the UAE in 2009. Since then, they have been living and working together in a home studio in Dubai. The artists have become key figures in the local art community, collaborating with other artists, mentoring younger practitioners and even involving the public in their artistic activations.

The collective’s first institutional solo exhibition in the UAE is currently taking place at NYU Abu Dhabi. Titled Parthenogenesis: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, the exhibition at NYUAD Art Gallery follows the artists’ methods as they will take over the space to establish a “landscape” within the gallery, seeing how artworks transform through collective and collaborative actions. It runs until Sunday, June 12.

Updated: April 05, 2022, 10:28 AM