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Laila Hida wins first Recanati-Kaplan Prize

Laila Hida © Hicham Bouzid

By Villa Albertine

Morocco-based artist and cultural activist Laila Hida has been selected as the first winner of the new Recanati-Kaplan Prize. Created by the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation and Villa Albertine in partnership with the Institut du monde arabe, the prize is awarded to a cultural figure from the Arab world.

New York, February 15, 2023 — Launched in the fall of 2022 for creators, researchers, and culture professionals from across the Arab world, the Recanati-Kaplan prize aims to support artistic and intellectual exchange between the United States, France, and the Arab world. The winner receives both a $15,000 cash prize and a two-month exploratory residency to pursue their artistic project in the US city of their choosing.

“Through this prize, we are proud and honored to support the work of artists and visionary thinkers,” Thomas Kaplan, founder of the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, said. “By envisioning new cultural, artistic and intellectual bridges between the Arab world, the United States, and France, these figures and the people they meet are part of a crucial mission for modern society.”

The competition was judged by Antoine Artiganave, representing the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation; Gaëtan Bruel, Director, Villa Albertine; Jack Lang, President, Institut du monde arabe; Frédérique Mehdi, Director of Cultural Development, Institut du monde arabe; and Mouna Mekouar, freelance curator and art critic.

The partners of the Prize are thrilled to name Laila Hida as its first winner. Laila Hida is a Franco-Moroccan artist based in Marrakesh, where she founded LE 18, a collective, multidisciplinary space, in 2013. LE 18 organizes exchanges, exhibitions, workshops, and residencies for artists, curators, and researchers around a range of issues, including image and representation, shared resources, and the spoken word, challenging our understanding of mediation and curation.

In addition, Laila Hida’s work uses private spaces and narratives to explore the place of the individual within a society gripped by change. She investigates projections and frictions of desire, ideas, and concepts in both local and western contexts through curation, publishing, installations, and photography projects.

Her residency project, “Journey of the Phoenix”, examines how narratives are manufactured around representations of the oasis, and its mythologization in colonial travel literature and 19th-century cinema. After conducting initial research in Morocco and in Nice, she will pursue her Villa Albertine residency this fall in Los Angeles to study the city’s landscape and the history of its imported palm trees. In doing so, she will investigate the way the city has been constructed out of a notion of exoticism and a reproduced, stereotyped narratives.

“Thanks to the support of the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, we are delighted to welcome Laila Hida among the residents of our 2023 season,” Gaëtan Bruel added. “Her career and project have struck a chord with Villa Albertine, as we aim to move beyond the United States and France to open up to other geographies, gathering unique voices around shared challenges.” With its partner foundations, Villa Albertine supports residents from across the Arab world and the African continent.

The Institut du monde arabe is proud to be involved with the Recanati-Kaplan Prize,” Jack Lang said. “It recognizes the outstanding work that Laila Hida has been doing in Morocco, and supports an original project to create a genuine dialogue between the Arab world, France, and the United States.”


In partnership with

Recanati-Kaplan Foundation

Created in 2010 by Thomas S. Kaplan and Daphne Recanati-Kaplan, the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation supports the development of initiatives of excellence in four areas: the protection of our biodiversity; research in medical sciences; the teaching of history and philosophy; and cultural, artistic, and intellectual bridge-building between the Arab world, France and the United States.

Institut du monde arabe

The Institut du monde arabe was founded in 1980 by France and the League of Arab States to promote and highlight Arab culture in all its forms. Housed in a building designed by the eminent architect Jean Nouvel and Architecturestudio, this genuine hub of encounters and exchanges opened its doors in 1987. For the past 35 years, the Institut du monde arabe has continued to strengthen cultural, political, economic, and social connections between France and the Arab world.

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