National College of Art and Design awards inaugural Honorary Doctorate to internationally renowned artist Emily Jacir

The following citation was read by Professor David Crowley, NCAD Head of Visual Culture, as part of the NCAD Autumn Conferrings at UCD on Friday, 1st December, 2023.









Emily Jacir: Honorary Doctor of Art and Design at NCAD 

"Today as we celebrate your achievements as graduates — and express thanks to all who have supported and guided you along the way — we also formally welcome a new member into our NCAD community. 

Today we honour an artist who has become a valued friend of the college, collaborating with us on the important work of connecting NCAD to other communities and other contexts: helping us to engage in new conversations about the place and purpose of art and design in the wider world. 

Emily Jacir is an artist of considerable renown — and we are delighted that she joins us today as the recipient of an honorary doctorate from NCAD. This is the highest award that we - at NCAD - can offer to mark brilliant accomplishments by individuals in our fields of practice. An honorary doctorate marks truly exceptional and sustained achievements that significantly contribute to the public good. 

Emily has featured in many of the international art-world’s most high-profile exhibitions: Documenta, The Whitney Biennial, The Istanbul Biennial, and, notably, the Venice Biennale, at which she has presented work on five occasions. She has received some of the most prestigious awards and accolades in contemporary art, including the Hugo Boss Prize, presented by the Guggenheim Museum, and the Venice Biennale Golden Lion.   

For many years, Emily has maintained strong relationships with artists and curators in Ireland — and in 2016, a major survey of her work — entitled Europa — was staged at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. 

Such prizes and presentations attest to the power of Emily’s art to connect with audiences in multiple international contexts.  Her wide-ranging practice — spanning film, photography, writing, sculpture, and more — is conceptual in its influences, political in its outlook and poetic in its artistic inclinations, often  exploring, with care and subtlety, the complex histories and fractured geographies that continue to shape life for those who share her Palestinian background and identity.  

From the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Emily has also lived for extended periods in Saudi Arabia, Italy and the United States. A biographical statement notes that she “lives and works around the Mediterranean” — a declaration that, like her work, expresses an open-minded, multi-faceted and inclusive spirit of belonging, while gesturing, unavoidably, to enduring, deeply-felt effects of displacement and division. 

As the late Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said once noted, Emily’s art has, at times, sought to “slip through the nets of bureaucracies and nonnegotiable borders, time and space, in search not of grandiose dreams or clotted fantasies but rather of humdrum objects and simple gestures …” 

In conferring Emily today as an Honorary Doctor of Art and Design at NCAD, we celebrate her work as an artist, but also highlight and praise the activities she has undertaken in supporting other artists. As Founding Director of the Dar Jacir Centre for Art and Research in Bethlehem — an artist-led initiative based in her family’s former home in the city — she established a vital hub of innovative learning and artistic experimentation.  Under conditions of extreme pressure and constraint, Emily and colleagues at Dar Jacir have created a space of artistic freedom and imaginative possibility: a place (as their mission statement proclaims) “to ask questions, exchange ideas, to dream and to grapple with our contemporary situation.” 

In her commitment to continuing such endeavours at Dar Jacir, Emily shares with NCAD a vision of creative practice as a force for good.   

We warmly thank you, Emily, for joining us today and for accepting this award of an honorary doctorate. It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome you into our NCAD community."


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