The Dunya
Contemporary Art Prize
The Dunya Prize

The Dunya Contemporary Art Prize is the principal project of the Shulamit Nazarian Foundation and embodies the ethos of the foundation to inform audiences, build bridges and expand the cultural conversation.

The Dunya Prize is a major biennial contemporary art award presented to a mid-career artist from the Middle East or its diaspora. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago awards the selected artist a monetary prize and a commission for a new work and presents their work in a solo exhibition. The prize in its current iteration in an invitation-only process with nominations made by experts in the field.

The name Dunya, meaning the world in many languages across the Middle East and beyond, reflects the global focus of the award and the shared vision of the MCA Chicago and the Shulamit Nazarian Foundation to represent diverse perspectives and bring attention to new and daring voices. We see the word Dunya as hopeful, melodic, strong. The poetry of artist/writer Jordan Nassar captures this sentiment:

To put it simply, Dunya is the whole world…
Dunya is the world you swear by when you
promise true love. Dunya is the world that is
Ruined when your heart is broken. Dunya is the
earth, the trees, the rivers and the oceans…
Dunya has always contained a certain
magic… where the perfect hills slope, heavy with perfect
olive groves and perfect vineyards, terraced
gardens staggering their inclines, the perfect sun
hot, giving the shade a chance to play the hero.
— Selections from Jordan Nassar’s “Dunya”