From Palmyra to the old city of Aleppo, the destruction of ancient sites has been widely reported in the media. Artists, curators, collectors, cultural commentators and institutions are also put under increasing risk. Survival of the Artist hears about the challenges individuals, institutions and commentators face in times of unprecedented challenge.

A full day divided into three sessions, looking at the themes of censorship, artists at risk and heritage destruction. Sessions will include presentations from each of the participants, panel discussions and audience Q&As.

A special performance will take place in the lecture theatre for all conference ticket holders. The performance is repeated three times during the day. Delegates will be assigned a time slot upon purchasing tickets.

Survival of the Artist Conference Programme

Registration – 10am onwards

Strictly Prohibited – 11am-12:45pm
Artists present their responses to the curtailment of freedoms, censorship and restrictions in public spaces. Speakers include: choreographers and dancers Selma and Sofiane Ouissi (founders Dream City, Tunisia), playwright and cultural activist Abdullah Alkafri (Executive Director of Ettijahat – Independent Culture, Syria) and artists Khaled Barakeh (Syria) and Khaled Jarrar (Palestine); chair: TJ Demos.

Lunch break – 12:45-2pm

Representing the Artist – 2pm-3:15pm
This session explores the efforts of collectors and institutions to protect artists at risk and reflects on issues of representation of these artists within national and international spaces. Speakers include: William Wells (Town House Gallery, Cairo), Shireen Atassi (Atassi Foundation, Syria), Al Mawred Al Thaqafy-Artists at Risk (Beirut), and Hammad Nasar (curator and writer). Chaired by Dr. Anthony Downey (Editor-in-Chief of Ibraaz and Professor of Visual Culture in North Africa and the Middle East, Birmingham City University).

Displaced history – 3:25-5:15pm
As heritage is threatened and contested, four artists and curators look at important historical and cultural narratives under threat. Speakers include: Tamara Chalabi (curator Iraq Pavilion Venice Biennale and director Ruya Foundation, Iraq), and artists Zahrah Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia), Maeve Brennan (Beirut-based) and Larissa Sansour (Palestine); chair: Venetia Porter (British Museum).


For The Absent Ones – Parallel Crossings (20mins): 10:15am, 1pm, 1:30pm
The artist cannot be present tonight. Created as an audio-experience by theatre artists Abdullah Alkafri (Beirut), Moez Mrabet (Tunis), Jon Davies and Jonathan May (UK), For the Absent Ones is a response to tightening borders and restrictions on travel. Equipped with headphones and entering a theatre space, the audience listens to moving voices of those unable to move freely.

Presented in partnership with The Mosaic Rooms. In collaboration with the Atassi Foundation, with additional support from Al Mawred Al Thaqafy.


Part of Shubbak at the British Museum a day of events, installations and talks in one of London’s iconic spaces.
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