ACT professor Azra Aksamija featured artist in residence at Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts in Honolulu

Shangri La
ACT at MIT

A SALON ON ART, DESIGN, AND CIVIC SPACE FEATURING ACT PROFESSOR AZRA AKSAMIJA

SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2016 – SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2016

The Doris Duke’s Shangri La is a center for Islamic arts and cultures in Honolulu Hawaii, offering guided tours, residencies for scholars and artists, and programs for the purpose of improving understanding of the Islamic world. Shangri La hosts invited artists in residence whose work is related to, and advances the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures. Selected artists pursue their own creative work and present public programs such as lectures, workshops and performances.  Artists are invited based on professional qualifications and achievements, how closely the artist’s work compliments Shangri La’s mission, and the suitability of Shangri La for the artist’s activity. The Shangri La residency is a highly prestigious invitation-only residency of the Doris Duke Foundation for artists and scholars working in the field of Islamic art. Previous artists in-residence included Walid Raad, Hasan Elahi, Mohamed Zakariya and Shazia Shikander, among others. The house-museum was the house of the late Doris Duke, which is an Islamic art equivalent of the Gardner Museum in Boston, MA. The house looks like a mixture of Alhambra and Hawaian gardens. Recently, the museum welcomed a new director Konrad Ng.

Over the past decade, the field of art has been transformed by the convergence of different cultural and disciplinary perspectives in a globally networked society, new forms of cultural mobility and emergent communication technologies, as well as an increased recognition of culture’s agency in addressing global conflicts and crises. Azra Aksamija’s work has embraced these evolving trends to develop a distinctive methodological and pedagogical framework of her Future Heritage Studio. Aksamija’s work investigates ways in which contemporary art, cultural heritage and new technologies can link societies to foster mutual understanding, empower local communities, and cultivate coexistence on a global scale. In her talk, Aksamija will present her research and creative work that integrates Islamic cultural heritage with heritage from different geographic and historical contexts-art, architecture, cultural practices, representations, artifacts, skills, materials, media, and technologies-towards the creation of new transcultural artistic and cultural forms. Local parallels will be discussed as well.

Azra Akšamija is an award-winning artist, architectural historian, and associate professor of the arts at MIT’s Art, Culture, and Technology Program. Her academic research focuses on the representation of Islam in the West, architecture and conflict in the Balkans since the 1990s, and the agency of cultural memory in societies affected by conflict and crisis. Her recent book, Mosque Manifesto, (Revolver Publishing, 2015) explores ways in which creative forms of Islamic representation may foster better understanding between cultures. Akšamija holds master degrees from the Technical University Graz and Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in History of Islamic Art and Architecture from MIT.  Her work has been shown in leading international venues including Sculpture Center New York, the Royal Academy of Arts London, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice. She received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013 for her design of the prayer space in the Islamic Cemetery Altach, Austria. While here she will be researching Shangri La’s textile collection in conjunction with her ongoing research on ways in which contemporary art can pose new questions concerning cultural preservation and inform new approaches to humanitarian aid.

This salon was co-presented by Interisland Terminal.