Artist’s study of Sufi devotion wins Blake Prize for Religious Art

2011 Blake Prize Winner

A video of a Sufi religious ceremony by Khaled Sabsabi, who has won the 60th annual Blake Prize for Religious Art with his video work, Naqshbandi Greenacre Engagement (2010).

Naqshbandi Greenacre Engagement (2010) was filmed over a three-month period and was the unanimous choice of the three judges.

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.

The work by Sabsabi offers a exceptional insight into the power of shared spirituality, and was developed as part of the Edge of Elsewhere contemporary art project for Campbelltown Art Centre, Gallery 4A and Sydney Festival.

The Naqshbandi Sufis are mystics who reside in Sydney’s West and Melbourne who believe one’s journey is the return to God. The group allowed Sabsabi into their space to film their sacred weekly ceremony (Zikr). Sabsabi videoed the ceremony over a three-month period at a local Western Sydney Scout Hall, and the result is a beautiful realisation of contemporary ceremony.

2011 Blake Prize Winner

Sabsabi said that his 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.”

The three-channel video is a work that was born out of Sabsabi’s rigorous and commited engagement with members of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order of Australia, both in Greenacre, western Sydney and Melbourne. Sabsabi’s work reveals to us a view into the spiritual and communal gatherings of members of the Greenacre Order who come together on a weekly basis in a local Australian Scout halls for spiritual meditation in the form of Zikr ceremonies.

Members from a variety of cultural backgrounds embraced the artist into their ceremonial setting, allowing both him and us as the audience to witness a world that eloquently explores the visual manifestations of subtle social realities of the power of shared spirituality and geography, in the context of contemporary Australian suburban existence.

Sabsabi has recently been travelling through Lebanon, Syria and the surrounding area to research and develop new work for Edge of Elsewhere 2012.

Full details of the other Blake Prize award winners can be found here.

Source:Edge of Elsewhere; artshub.com.au

Photo Credit: Khaled Sabsabi, Naqshbandi Greenacre Engagement, 2011, installation view, three-channel video projection, commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre, photography: Susannah Wimberley; Edwina Pickles

Edge of Elsewhere exhibition, Campbelltown