Azra Akšamija is an artist and architectural historian, Director of the MIT Future Heritage Lab and an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology. In her multi-disciplinary work, Akšamija investigates the politics of identity and memory on the scale of the body (clothing and wearable technologies), on the civic scale (religious architecture and cultural institutions), and within the context of history and global cultural flows. Her projects explore creative responses to conflict and crisis though transcultural aesthetics, civic preservation, pedagogy through co-creation, and in so doing, provide a framework for analyzing and intervening in contested socio-political realities.
Akšamija’s recent academic research focuses on the representation of Islam in the West, destruction and restoration of cultural heritage in the Balkans and the MENA region. In her artistic practice, Akšamija combines cultural heritage from different contexts towards the creation of new art forms and future heritage. Her work has been published and exhibited in leading international venues such as at the Generali Foundation Vienna, Valencia Biennial, Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, Liverpool Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, SculptureCenter New York, Secession Vienna, Manifesta 7, Stroom The Hague, the Royal Academy of Arts London, Jewish Museum Berlin, Queens Museum of Art in New York, Qalandiya International, London Biennale – Manila Pollination 2016 and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice. She received the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013 for her design of the prayer space in the Islamic Cemetery Altach, Austria.