ICTJ Honors the Winners of the Wide Awake Art Contest in Lebanon and Tunisia


Tunis, March 22, 2022­—The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) will hold a series of cultural activities from March 21 through March 26, 2022, as part of its Wide Awake Art Contest. The contest, launched in January, invited Lebanese and Tunisian artists, as well as expat artists residing in either country, to enter artwork that broadly explored the theme “the Sound of Dissent.” It showcases works by artists seeking to document and memorialize the stories of their communities in times marked by instability, resistance, and change.

More than 220 artists entered works in wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, music, video, and photography, among others. The jury, composed of world-renowned experts such as Ashekman, Dora Dalila Cheffi, Mouna Karray, Paola Mounla, and Rim Shadid, evaluated the entries based on criteria such as creativity, technical expertise, and relevance to the contest’s theme. After several rounds, the jury selected the six finalists: Raoul Joseph Mallat (first place), Becem Sdiri (second place), Christiane Assoury (third place), Ahmad Ghaddar (fourth place), Firas El Hallak (fifth place), and Ahlem Chihaoui (sixth place)

The finalists’ works reflect the immense talent of the region’s new generation of promising artists. “I was very pleased to see artworks from Tunisia and Lebanon defying the established rules and norms,” said jury member Paola Mounla. “Both countries are facing dire circumstances, which gives rise to new forms of artistic expression, conveying both the sense of frustration and the sense of hope and peace.”

Each finalist received a cash prize ranging from USD 3,000 and USD 2,000 for first and second place, respectively, to US 500 for fifth and sixth place. ICTJ awarded the prizes at a ceremony held in Tunis on March 22, 2022, in their honor. The ceremony offered an open and inclusive space for the artists and members of civil society to discuss the crucial role art plays in society particularly in engaging communities in political and social activism in Tunisia and Lebanon.

In addition to the prizes, the finalists will have the opportunity to share their artworks with a wider audience through an online exhibition on the ICTJ website.

 “I am grateful for the recognition that my work, Amal, received in the Wide Awake Contest. It is heartwarming to see that young generations are given the opportunity to have their voices heard by a wider audience,” said Raoul Mallat, who took first place. “Amal is a story inspired by the circumstances faced by displaced youth, which is an all-too-common reality in the times we live in. It is a series of vital moments in the life of one individual living through war.”

The contest’s events will continue through the Saturday, March 26. On Wednesday, March 23, ICTJ will hold a seminar, entitled “Art and Commemoration as a Guarantee to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes,” in the town of Gaâfour, Siliana Governorate, in partnership with the cultural and human rights organization Martyr for Freedom Nabil Barakati: Remembrance and Loyalty. The agenda also includes a screening of an ICTJ documentary about Nabil Barakati and a visit to the art exhibition “La flame germe” at the Selma Feriani Gallery on March 24. On the final day, participants will get a taste of Tunisia’s thriving art scene by visiting the Kamel Lazaar Foundation’s B7L9 Art Station and Mouhit Space.