A video work showing
Naqshbandi Sufi Muslims chanting has won UNSW@COFA graduate Khaled
Sabsabi the 60th Blake Prize for Religious Art.
He is one of two COFA
alumni and two COFA students acknowledged in the
multimedia piece invites the viewer to contemplate the space of
traditional ritual. The Naqshbandi Sufis, who reside in Sydney’s West
and Melbourne, are mystics who believe one’s journey is the return to
The three judges said
the work showed a duality: “This space is both sacred and mundane, a
place of worship and of coming together of family and community.”
Engagement (2010) was filmed
over a three-month period and was the unanimous choice of the three
Sabsabi, born in
Tripoli, Lebanon, is an artist and community arts practitioner. He works
with communities to create
and develop arts programs and projects that explore people and places
from broad social, political, and ideological spectrums.
On winning the Prize,
Sabsabi said: “The work wouldn’t have been possible without the
generosity and good will of the Sydney Naqshbandi community and for this
I would like to thank the Order for allowing me the opportunity to
briefly share in their teachings and knowledge. To this community,
spirituality is concerned with developing one’s abilities and capacity
through emotional, intellectual, and physical practices to work towards
part-time artist is currently overseas as part of the Helen Lempriere
travelling art scholarship.
Professor Ian Howard said: "Who would have thought COFA was such a
spiritual place! Blake prize winner, Khaled Sabsabi, and Highly
Commended, Hayden Fowler, are both COFA graduates. As well Highly
Commended artist, Khadim Ali is a masters students with us, as is John
Coburn award recipient (for a young artist) Carla Hananiah.
Congratulations to all and may peace be with you!"
The Blake Prize for
Religious Art was established in 1951 and is the oldest prize in
Australia dedicated to spirituality, religion and cultural diversity.
The annual award is valued at $20,000.
The judging panel
comprised artist Pat Brassington, Dr Julian Droogan a lecturer in
religious history at Macquarie University and Dr Blair French, the
Executive Director of Artspace
Visual Arts Centre.