The Imran Mir Art Prize seeks to recognize emerging art practitioners in Pakistan, who demonstrate extraordinary promise and talent. The prize was instituted in 2014 to honor the legacy of the late artist Imran Mir. For the third cycle of the prize, the Imran Mir Art Foundation collaborated with the Lahore Biennial Foundation, and the award ceremony took place at the historic Lahore Fort during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Lahore Biennial.
This year’s prize was awarded to Ammara Jabbar which included an award of 100,000 PKR and an opportunity for a year long dialogue with curator Aziz Sohail to develop a solo exhibition. Her work stood out amongst other applications for its skillful and adroit translation of references to the domestic and performative as a means to investigate notions of gender and public space in the city, and imagining new radical futures of belonging for all groups. The artist graduated with honors from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2015. She lives and works in Karachi.
The prize competition was open to all artists under 30 years of age, currently based in Pakistan. The Foundation received 128 applications from cities across the country. While a large percentage of the applicants hailed from large urban cities- including Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi- the Foundation also received a great number of applications from Gujrat, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Mingora, Mahrabpur, Chakwal, Peshawar, Quetta, Sargodha and Abbottabad. The applicants included painters, sculptors, film-makers and mixed media artists trained at premier institutes in Pakistan and abroad, but many noteworthy applicants had not received any formal training in art. This stands to demonstrate the Foundation’s dedication to the patronage of art, across a spectrum of diversity in practice and origin. The jury for this year’s prize included the renowned scholars Iftikhar Dadi, Hammad Nasar and Deborah Robinson. Iftikhar Dadi is the Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University. Hammad Nasar is an independent scholar and curator affiliated with the Paul Mellon Center at Yale University, and the University of the Arts, London. Deborah Robinson is the Head of Exhibitions at the New Art Gallery, Walsall. Aziz Sohail served as the curatorial advisor.
The prize was graciously sponsored by Tapal Tea. Additional sponsorship was made available by Summit Bank. Both organizations have served as generous patrons of the arts in Pakistan.