Festival of Iraqi Culture Event: A Conversation Between Sama Alshaibi and Michael Rakowitz Moderated by Prerana Reddy

Sun, March 10, 2013 2:00 pm at Metropolitan Museum of Art

(View all festival of iraqi culture events »)

The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

Free and Open to the Public

A Conversation Between Sama Alshaibi and Michael Rakowitz Moderated by Prerana Reddy.

Contemporary Artists Discuss the Complex Relationship Between Iraq's Past and Present Through Their Individual Artistic Works.

Sama Alshaibi is a multi-media artist born in 1973 (Basra, Iraq) to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother. Her practice includes photography, video/object hybrids, multimedia installations and sculpture. Alshaibi has a longstanding history of negotiating spaces of conflict in her artwork: the aftermath of war and exile, the power dynamics between the nation and its citizenry and the interaction between humans competing for resources and power. By employing her position/identity/self, her works infiltrate and confront spaces in which control and domination are the status quo. They expose the hidden forces that police human behavior, or conversely, cause its rebellion. In Alshaibi’s artwork, issues of war, occupation and exile often share the stage with a female protagonist. Although she frequently uses her own body, she is rarely representing herself directly. The body is a signifier of the nation, the people or the individual negotiating with political and social oppressions. Alshaibi has exhibited in over ten solo exhibitions, most recently Vs. Him at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai (2011) and Zero Sum Game at Selma Feriani Gallery, London (2010). Her recent group exhibitions have included #COMETOGEHER: Edge of Arabia, London (2012), Come Visit Us, You’ll Strike Gold, HilgerBROTKunsthalle, Vienna (2012) The Changing Room, Turin and London (2011 and 2012), Corps Dévoilés (Body Discovered), Institut Du MondeArabe, Paris, France (2012), Alienation, Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, UAE (2012), Breaking Ranks: Human/Nature, Headlands Center for the Arts, California, USA (2011), The State, Traffic Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2010) and Hiwar at DARB 1718, Cairo, Egypt and Le Violon Bleu, Tunisia (2010).

Based between Chicago and New York City, Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American conceptual artist who operates within art spaces and beyond them. With his series paraSITE, Rakowitz built customized, inflatable shelters for the homeless using a mere budget of $5.00 for plastic bags and waterproof tape for each project, and the exterior vents of buildings for heat. In Return, produced by Creative Time in 2004, Rakowitz reopened his grandfather’s import and export business, Davison’s & Co., which first operated in Baghdad and then relocated to New York when his family was exiled in 1946. Rakowitz’s resurrected family business offered free shipping to Iraq three months after the U.S. declared stifling trade restrictions on the country. Spoils of 2011, another Rakowitz and Creative Time collaboration, took a more provocative and personal approach to American-Iraqi relations. Housed at Park Avenue Autumn restaurant, the “culinary/art experience” provided patrons with rich traditional Iraqi dishes served on rare pieces of fine China from Saddam Hussein’s personal collection. More surprising than the sensory tensions experienced by each diner, notably the contrast between the “sweetness of the Iraqi date syrup, and the…bitter provenance of the dish ware,” was the dramatic conclusion of the project. A cease-and-desist letter from the State Department calling for the “surrender” of the plates abruptly ended Spoils, and resulted in their return to Iraqi territory. It was, according to Rakowitz, a “kind of perfect” ending to the project.

Prerana Reddy is currently the Director of Public Events at the Queens Museum of Art, where in addition to organizing their screenings, performances, discussions, and community-based collaborative programs and exhibits both on- and offsite, she developed an intensive arts and; social justice program for immigrant youth as well as a community development initiative for Corona, Queens residents, many of whom are new immigrants with mixed status families and limited English language proficiency. She has also curated “Fatal Love”, an exhibition of South Asian American Contemporary Art as well commissioned two editions of Corona Plaza: Center of Everywhere,” Queens Museum’s socially-interactive public art projects. She is a Douglass Redd Fellow awarded by the Ford Foundation to leaders in the fields of culture and community development. Reddy is also a documentary filmmaker and researcher whose work has explored such topics as alternatives to juvenile detention, the history of slavery in New York City, and the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai. She has a Masters degree in Cinema Studies and Anthropology from New York University, and has extensive film programming experience, having worked for several years with the South Asian film & video collective 3rd i NY, the NY Arab & South Asian Film Festival, and the New York African Film Festival, and is currently on the board of Alwan for the Arts, an Arab and Middle Eastern cultural organization based in lower Manhattan.

Last updated: 2013-03-06 23:13:00

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