Unraveling Histories: Nabla Yahya’s 'SoftBank' | Savoir Flair
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Unraveling Histories: Nabla Yahya’s 'SoftBank'
article RICHARD MILLE
by Savoir Flair 3-minute read February 26, 2024

Nabla Yahya wins the 2023 Richard Mille Art Prize with SoftBank, a history-revealing masterpiece.

At Louvre Abu Dhabi on January 24th, Nabla Yahya clinched victory in the 2023 Richard Mille Art Prize with her remarkable creation, SoftBank. Responding to this year’s theme of ‘Transparencies,’ Yahya presents a three-dimensional cartographic depiction of the Suez Canal, shedding light on its obscured histories and human costs. Her win marks the culmination of a journey that began with her selection as one of the eight shortlisted artists showcased at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Born and raised in Abu Dhabi to Indian parents, Yahya is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice blends video, spatial elements, and textual components seamlessly. Her artwork unravels forgotten narratives, illuminating obscured histories and atrocities. Through her exploration of these overlooked facets, Yahya ignites a discourse on the human toll entwined within ambitious projects.

Constructed with stainless steel, travertine, silver leaf, acrylic, and glass, SoftBank emulates the canal with water flowing down the middle. Above the stream hangs a rotating line of documentary and photographic documents. At its center lies a crystal healing bowl bearing engravings of hyper-capitalist imperialist ideologies. These figures, disguised as altruistic public servants, spearheaded ventures with exploitative intentions within colonized territories.

img RICHARD MILLE

Founded in 1858, the Suez Canal Company facilitated exploitation within colonized regions under the guise of entrepreneurial motives. However, the success of such ventures often exacted a heavy toll on their host territories, perpetuating cycles of suffering and exploitation.

Through SoftBank, Yahya aims to illuminate the cultural hegemony underpinning capitalist and imperialist realpolitik, shedding light on the true exploitation stories. From the overlooked plight of workers subjected to the system's brutality to the glorification of engineering marvels and machinery, this piece serves as a reminder of the necessity to reflect on historical accounts, amplify marginalized voices, and illuminate obscured chapters of humanity’s past.

Visit the captivating ‘Transparencies’ Art Prize exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 8:30 pm until March 31st, 2024.

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