maryam jafri at act’s lecture series – oct 5, 2015

Maryam Jafri

We’re kicking off our lecture series with an exciting start!

On October 5, Maryam Jafri will discuss her recent work with an emphasis on her ongoing photo research project “Independence Day 1934-1975.” The project is fueled by Jafri’s interest in questions of heritage and the archive, and the role of photography in the formation of historical and national narratives during the process of decolonization in Asia and Africa. The talk will be moderated by our very own second year ACT graduate student Gedney Barclay with Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell, SMarchS candidate at MIT’s History, Theory and Criticism program as respondent.


Independence Day 1934-1975

Based between New York and Copenhagen, Jafri is an internationally acclaimed artist with solo exhibitions in Kunsthalle Basel, Betonsalon (Paris) Gasworks (London), and Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld) among others. See the expanded list of solo exhibitions at the end of this post.



Jafri is an artist working in video, performance and photography, with a specific interest in questioning the cultural and visual representation of history, politics and economy. Over the last years, she has notably investigated the connections between the production of goods and the production of desire (Avalon, 2011); the elaboration of historical narratives through a post-colonial perspective (Siege of Khartoum, 1884, 2006); the effects of globalization on working conditions (Global Slum, 2012) and the political stakes of food networks (Mouthfeel, 2014).



Informed by a research based, interdisciplinary process, her artworks are often marked by a visual language posed between film and theatre and a series of narrative experiments oscillating between script and document, fragment and whole. She has a BA in literature from Brown and participated in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Barclay photo

Gedney Barclay is an artist with a background in theater and performance, whose process is grounded in extensive research and structured improvisations with the body and voice. She works between video, photography, and theater to study why, when, and how physical experiences are broken down, described, and refigured across different media, always looking for what gets added or omitted along the way.

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Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell is a curator and writer based in New York and Cambridge. Her research focuses on collective practices of the 1990s and 2000s, the impact of globalization on design and aesthetics, postcolonial feminisms, and conditions of labor and production of contemporary art in China. She is currently serving as Curatorial Assistant, Asian Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She was the research curator for the 14th Istanbul Biennial, SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms. 

The talk will take place on Monday, October 5 at 7:00pm – 9:00pm at the ACT Cube, E15-001. 

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Maryam Jafri solo exhibitions include: Kunsthalle Basel, Betonsalon (Paris) Gasworks (London), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld), Galerie Nova (Zagreb), Beirut (Cairo), the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin), and Malmö Konst Museum (Malmö). Her work has also been been featured extensively in international group exhibitions, including at the Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial, Beirut Art Center, 21er Haus (Vienna), Institute for African Studies (Moscow) and Contemporary Image Collective (Cairo); Camera Austria (Graz), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), CAFAM Biennial (Beijing), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (Miami) in 2014; Museum of Contemporary Art (Detroit), Mukha (Antwerp) in 2013; Manifesta 9 (Genk), Shangai Biennial and Taipei Biennial (Taipei) in 2012, among others.