Azra Akšamija is a Sarajevo born artist and architectural historian. She is the Class of 1922 Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Art, Culture and Technology Programme. 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.
Akšamija was trained in architecture at the Technical University Graz, Austria (Dipl.Ing. in 2001) and Princeton University (M.Arch. in 2004), and received her PhD in History of Islamic Art and Architecture from MIT (History Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture / Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture) in 2011.
Akšamija’s 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, Sculpture Center 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, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice.
Azra Akšamija’s projects explore the potency of art and architecture to facilitate the process of transformative conflict mediation though cultural pedagogy, and in so doing, provide a framework for analysing and intervening in contested socio-political realities. Her recent work focuses on the representation of Islam in the West, architectural forms of nationalism in the Balkans since the 1990s, and the role of cultural institutions and heritage in constructing common good in divided societies. Akšamija investigates the role of cultural and religious identity in conflicts, especially in the recent history of the Yugoslavian war and its aftermath.
Over the past two decades, the field of Islamic art and architecture has been affected by the political developments and cultural destruction in the Islamic World, the rise of the new art world in the Gulf region, and finally, an increased recognition of interdisciplinary and transcultural approaches in the broader fields of art and architecture. Azra Akšamija who has a background in both fields will address how these factors pose new challenges and opportunities regarding the continuous use of the label “Islamic” dedicated to the study of very diverse aspects of art and architecture of highly heterogeneous and hybrid world cultures. She will outline an alternative perspective in her own work, which she calls “Transcultural Practice”, addressing the pressing concerns over the global societal polarisation around Islamic identity.
Azra Akšamija is the Class of 1922 Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor in the MIT Art, Culture and Technology Program. She holds graduate degrees from TU Graz, Princeton University and a Ph.D. from MIT. Her recent exhibitions include the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Queens Museum of Art in New York, and the 54th Venice Biennale. She is the recipient of the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
More information on the conference here: www.ciada2015.com