Survival of the Artist
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The British Museum
BP Lecture Theatre
The Mosaic Rooms, in association with Shubbak Festival 2017, presents Survival of the Artist, a one day symposium of talks and performance which asks how art and artists in the Arab world can survive and respond in times of conflict and censorship.
Artists, curators, cultural commentators and institutions in the region are at increasing risk. We hear from inspirational artists and thinkers from across the Arab world about these challenges and how some artists and art spaces are enduring and thriving in the most challenging conditions. From Palmyra to Mosul, the destruction of ancient sites through armed violence has been widely reported in the media; the day ends with artists who are responding to these threats to cultural heritage.
The conference is divided into three sessions, looking at the themes of censorship, artists at risk and heritage destruction. Sessions will include presentations from each of the participants, panel discussions and audience Q&As.
A special art performance will take place in the lecture theatre for all conference ticket holders. The performance is repeated three times during the day. Delegates will be assigned a time slot upon purchasing tickets.
Survival of the Artist Conference Programme
Registration – 10am onwards
Strictly Prohibited – 11am-12:45pm
Artists present their responses to the curtailment of freedoms, censorship and restrictions in public spaces. Speakers include:
- Selma and Sofiane Ouissi (founders Dream City, Tunisia)
- Abdullah Alkafri ( playwright and cultural activist and Executive Director of Ettijahat – Independent Culture, Syria)
- Khaled Barakeh (artist, Syria)
- Khaled Jarrar (artist, Palestine)
- Chair: TJ Demos (cultural critic and Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture, SA Cruz).
Lunch break – 12:45-2pm
Representing the Artist – 2pm-3:15pm
This session explores the efforts of collectors and institutions to protect artists at risk and reflects on issues of representation of these artists within national and international spaces. Speakers include:
- William Wells (Town House Gallery, Cairo)
- Shireen Atassi (Atassi Foundation, Syria)
- Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Artists at Risk, Beirut)
- Hammad Nasar (curator and writer)
- Chair: Dr. Anthony Downey (Editor-in-Chief of Ibraaz and Professor of Visual Culture in North Africa and the Middle East, Birmingham City University).
Displaced history – 3:25-5:15pm
As heritage is threatened and contested, four artists and curators look at important historical and cultural narratives under threat. Speakers include:
- Tamara Chalabi (curator Iraq Pavilion Venice Biennale and director Ruya Foundation, Iraq)
- Zahrah Al Ghamdi (artist, Saudi Arabia)
- Maeve Brennan (Beirut-based)
- Larissa Sansour (Palestine)
- Chair: Venetia Porter (Curator, Islamic and Contemporary Middle East at the British Museum).
For The Absent Ones – Parallel Crossings (20mins): 10:15am, 1pm, 1:30pm
The artist cannot be present tonight. Created as an audio-experience by theatre artists Abdullah Alkafri (Beirut), Moez Mrabet (Tunis), Jon Davis and Jonathan May (UK), For the Absent Ones is a response to tightening borders and restrictions on travel. Equipped with headphones and entering a theatre space, the audience listens to moving voices of those unable to move freely.
Inanimate village – Zahrah Al-Ghamdi: performance from 9.30am onwards
Saudi Arabian artist Zahrah Al-Ghamdi presents a special site specific installation in the Great Court. The artist will create a large-scale floor piece live in the first part of the day, it will then be on display for the afternoon only. The piece reflects on the disappearance of traditional architectural forms and spatial layouts in Saudi Arabia
Supported by Atassi Foundation and Al Mawred Al Thaqafy.
With thanks to The British Museum.
Part of Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. 1 – 16 July 2017.
© The Untitled Images (2014) Khaled Barakeh