THURSDAY, Nov. 16, 2017 at Arab American National Museum
7 – 9 p.m. (AANM)
Includes gallery talk by Nabil Mousa, whose work is presented in the AANM exhibition American Landscape: An Exploration of Art and Humanity (Main Floor Gallery).
FRIDAY, Nov. 17, 2017 at The Dearborn Inn + Detroit Institute of Arts
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. (Dearborn Inn)
Bayoumi Remembered and Reimaged: Live-Scoring a Lecture/Film Presentation of Mohammed Bayoumi’s Films, 1923-1933
Key players in the creation of the Arab American National Museum’s first-ever commissioned piece will discuss the processes and learning that took place in creating a brand new musical score for presentations of the earliest surviving Arab films. A film screening featuring the world premiere of the score by the National Arab Orchestra is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts (see The Films of Mohammed Bayoumi listing below).
Michael Ibrahim is the composer of the score and one of the most innovative artists to emerge on the Arab American music circuit. Born in Detroit to Syrian immigrants, he has studied with Simon Shaheen, Johnny Sarweh and Nadim Dlaikan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Eastern Michigan University and an MA in conducting from Wayne State University. His unique approach to composition and improvisation has led to recordings and film score projects. Ibrahim is also an active music educator who teaches, lectures and demonstrates Arabic music. He founded the NAO in 2009.
Musicians of the National Arab Orchestra, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to creating memorable musical experiences through education, cultural outreach and performance, with emphasis on the musical traditions of the Arab World. The NAO is home to the NAO Orchestra, the NAO Takht Ensemble (the format for which this score was written), and the NAO Community Choir, all comprised of professional musicians from diverse backgrounds.
Mohannad Ghawanmeh is a film scholar and cineaste. He has produced, acted in, curated for, written about and lectured on film. His expertise is centered on Arab cinema, but extends into silent, non-fiction, transnational and religious cinema. A PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA, Ghawanmeh is recipient of the Teshome Gabriel Memorial Award and the Dr. Jack Shaheen Memorial Scholarship, among others. He is a 2017-18 fellow at the American Research Center in Egypt. His dissertation investigates the political economy of silent cinema in Egypt, 1896–1932.
11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. (Dearborn Inn)
Lunch + plenary: Comedy as a Tool for Social Activism
Amer Zahr is an Arab American comedian, speaker, writer and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He has headlined at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and is founder/producer of the 1001 Laughs Ramallah Comedy Festival in Palestine, and the annual 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival. Zahr is the filmmaker behind We’re Not White, a comedic telling of the Arab American struggle to get a box on the U.S. Census form. Zahr’s blog is The Civil Arab; his first book was Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile. Zahr holds an MA in Middle East Studies and a JD, both from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.
Suzie Afridi was born and raised in Jericho, in the West Bank. When she was 14, her family immigrated to San Jose, Calif. She attended San Jose State University then pretended to be a tax professional until her husband decided to move to Dubai. Afridi lived in Dubai for three years doing random jobs, none of which made her Pakistani in-laws proud. In 2007, she delivered a boy in a government hospital in Dubai. In 2008, the family moved to New York City. In 2013, she started doing stand-up because no one read her blog.
1 – 2:15 p.m. (Dearborn Inn)
Participatory Art, Multiple Platforms
Internationally acclaimed Iraqi American artist Wafaa Bilal will discuss select projects from his extensive body of work including Domestic Tension (aka Shoot an Iraqi), Virtual Jihadi and the 3di. Bilal’s work blends technology and performance to pose questions about geopolitical and personal realities, with an emphasis on dynamic encounters and relational antagonism as strategies to engage viewers in dialogue. He will narrate the evolution of his work alongside the personal experience of living between two worlds: the zones of conflict in Iraq and of comfort in the U.S.
Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi-born artist and an associate arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is known internationally for his online performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics. He holds a BFA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; among others.
2:30 – 3:45 p.m. (Dearborn Inn)
WORKSHOP: Story as Salve: Arab America Writes Its Own Healing
This community-empowering workshop will explore how to articulate and negotiate the traumatic as a creative path to healing and will offer participants a hands-on opportunity to participate in a listening exchange and short writing exercises.
R. Benedito Ferrão is a writer and academic who has lived and worked in Kuwait, India, the United States, England and Australia. He currently teaches English and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. An internationally published writer, his work appears in Outlook India, Media Diversified, India Currents and Mizna, among others. He is a member of Goa’s Al-Zulaij Collective.
Dr. Deborah Al-Najjar is a scholar of trauma and war who examined the first Persian Gulf War through the analytical lens of racial/sexual trauma. She received her PhD from the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Al-Najjar practices Mantra-based meditation within the Vedic tradition, and studies/performs a variety of somatic-based healing modalities.
Laila Farah is a Lebanese American feminist performer-scholar and associate professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University. She attended Lebanese American University and Eastern Michigan University for her BA in Theatre and Communication Arts and her MA in Performance Studies and Communication, and received her Doctorate in Performance Studies at Southern Illinois University. She continues to tour with her production, Living in the Hyphen-Nation.
Shannon O’Neill is a writer whose fiction and non-fiction addresses the history and identity of Arab-Americans and the cultural divide in American society around issues facing Arabs and Muslims in our shifting political and cultural landscapes. Her writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, Asian American Literary Review and Mizna, among others. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University and has an MA in Film Studies from the University College in Dublin, Ireland. Currently, she teaches Creative Writing at the College of William & Mary.
4 – 5:15 p.m. (Dearborn Inn)
Modern Art, Academia and Contemporary Civic Practice
This panel introduces AMCA: The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (www.amcainternational.org) and brings together scholars and activists to trace the relationship of art and social justice within the history of modern art of the Arab World. It will draw on a series of case studies from modern and contemporary Arab art to consider the successes and failures of art in addressing social issues and the possible role of academia within acts of civic resistance.
Sarah Rogers is an independent scholar and founding member and president-elect of AMCA. She is currently co-editing Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, to be published in Fall 2017 by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She received her PhD in 2008 from the History, Theory and Criticism section of the Dept. of Architecture at MIT.
Dina Ramadan, AMCA, is assistant Professor of Arabic at Bard College. She received her PhD from the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University and is currently working on a manuscript entitled An Education of Taste: Art, Aesthetics, and Subject Formation in Colonial Egypt.
Stephen Sheehi, AMCA, is the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Chair of Middle East Studies and Professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at the College of William and Mary and author of Foundations of Modern Arab Identity (2004), Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims (2011) and The Arab Imago: A Social History of Portrait Photography, 1860-1910 (2016).
Rijin Sahakian, AMCA, is a writer and arts organizer. She received her M.A. in Cultural Policy from New York University. In 2011, she founded Sada, a non-profit project conducting arts education, advocacy and production programs for Baghdad-based artists, which she directed from 2011-2015. Most recently, she was the guest curator at the City of Los Angeles, where she organized the exhibition Shangri La: Imagined Cities.
Hanan Toukan is the Adrienne Minassian Visiting Professorship in Honor of Marilyn Jenkins-Madina in the Depts. of Visual Arts and Middle East Studies at Brown University. She received her PhD in 2012 from SOAS University of London, where her dissertation, Intimate Encounters: Globally, Cultural Diplomacy, and Art in Post-War Lebanon, won the 2012 MESA Award for Best PhD in the Social Sciences.
Haytham Bahoora is assistant professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Toronto. He earned his MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University and has published articles on Arab art and literature in the International Journal of Middle East Studies and the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, among others. His book, Aesthetics of Arab Modernity: Literature and Urbanism in Colonial Iraq, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
6 – 7:15 p.m. (Detroit Institute of Arts)
Strolling dinner in the Rivera Court
5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit
7:30 – 9 p.m. (Detroit Institute of Arts)
The Films of Mohammed Bayoumi
AANM’s Global Fridays series and the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) Friday Night Live will unite for the first time with the National Arab Orchestra (NAO) for the world premiere of an original score written by NAO founder/director Michael Ibrahim. Taking place at the DIA, this performance by the NAO Takht Ensemble is be paired with screenings of rarely-seen silent films from the 1920s and 1930s by pioneering Egyptian director Mohammed Bayoumi. This event includes a discussion by Egyptian history and film scholar Mohannad Ghawanmeh. A National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by AANM, the City of Chicago and NPN, in partnership with the National Arab Orchestra, with additional support from Detroit Institute of Arts.
SATURDAY, Nov. 18, 2017 at Arab American National Museum
10 – 11:15 a.m. (AANM)
Arab American Theater: Voice Without Place?
Arab American theater artists struggle with issues regarding representation, audience reception, community support, and lack of funding and presentation opportunities. This panel, comprised of Arab American scholar/practitioners, attempts to address some of the prevalent questions facing Arab American theater artists today. Is all Arab American theater political? Do the politics of the stories and the bodies sharing them make the work intrinsically radical and activist? Are we reaching Arab Americans with our works, or are they mainly acts of translation for non-Arab audiences?
Kathryn Haddad is an award-winning writer, teacher and community organizer whose work explores contemporary Arab American experiences and reflects on the political reality of life for Arab and Muslim Americans. She founded the Arab American arts/literary group Mizna and led it for 12 years; she is currently founding executive and artistic director of New Arab American Theater Works.
Check back soon for more presenter information.
11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. (AANM)
Blood Lines: Dissecting the Personal & Political in Our Culture
In a world where the political is hard to separate from the personal, how do creatives choose between commenting on the mundane or creating work the challenges political issues head-on? How do contemporary artists navigate this delicate dichotomy between the personal and political? This panel dissects the notion of charged, or “political,” material in one’s creations, as several award-winning artists and activists discuss the ways they address charged material in their work, the craft and content implications behind it, and some approaches used by artists they admire.
Leila Abdelrazaq of Bigmouth Comix is a Chicago-born Palestinian author and artist. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. She has been featured in VICE News, Harper’s, Hyperallergic and The FADER, as well as in several printed anthologies. Her work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory and borders.
Jeremy Allen is an award-winning journalist who has been recognized nationally by the Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists for his excellence in writing. A two-time graduate of Eastern Michigan University, Allen serves as a public affairs specialist for the University of Michigan, where he communicates messages to the public about matters of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Nisa Dang is community organizer, political strategist and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Dang went to Nevada in 2016 to work on Democratic Party campaigns before earning a B.A. in political science. She then worked for an immigration law firm, traveling between New York and Djibouti to advance the immigration causes of the Yemeni community.
Tariq Luthun (moderator) is a Palestinian American data strategist, community organizer and Emmy Award-winning poet from Detroit. He is currently an MFA candidate for poetry in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Amidst other things, Luthun is the social director of Organic Weapon Arts Press and a co-founder of the PoC-dedicated literary arts series FRUIT. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl Poetry, The Offing, Winter Tangerine Review and Button Poetry.
2 – 3:15 p.m. (AANM)
WORKSHOP: Invention and Iconoclasm: Arab American Nostalgia and Its (Dis)Contents
Nostalgia: for some Arab American artists, it is a form of resistance. For some, a comfort. For a community that has undergone mass displacement and migration, nostalgia can present itself in the form of a loyalty to recurrent symbols, of which reinvention becomes an act of sacrilege. This session is both a conversation and a writing/sketching workshop; attendees will be asked to identify and actively re-imagine long-repeated symbols, encouraging participants to envision and articulate a different kind of future.
Kamelya Youssef is a Detroit-based poet, organizer and graduate student at Wayne State University. Her poems have been published in Mizna and Bird’s Thumb, among others. She is interested in the ecopoetics of immigrant and POC literatures and acts of non-translation. Youssef is a board member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). Her ongoing work is mastering the art of being in multiple places at once.
Leila Abdelrazaq of Bigmouth Comix is a Chicago-born Palestinian author and artist. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. Her drawings and writing have been featured in VICE News, Harper’s, Hyperallergic and The FADER, as well as in several printed anthologies. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory and borders.
3:30 – 4:45 p.m. (AANM)
هي\هو\هما // HEYYA/HOWWA/HUMAA
What does it mean to be a woman and Arab in the diaspora? What does it mean to be a man and Arab in the diaspora? What does it mean to be neither or both and Arab in the diaspora? This session explores the multi-layered performance of these identities as a means of shifting social practice through resistance and visibility. It’s a multi-sensory, audience-participatory performance that explores the complexities of the intersection of gender and cultural identities through cloth, text and voice.
Levon Kafafian is a queer-identified Armenian American multimedia artist who creates tactile and sensory works that explore the spaces between people, nature and culture. He is the founder of Fringe Society, a community textile studio that serves as a safe space to create connections between people and textiles.
Noura Ballout is a Detroit-based artist and curator whose work deals with identity, intimacy and gender. Ballout has exhibited their work at the Arab American National Museum, 555 Gallery and Wayne State University Gallery. They are the owner of The Bottom Line Cafe, a space that is not only a coffee shop but a hub for artists to connect and showcase their work.
5 – 6:30 p.m. (AANM)
Leila Buck Performance
Leila Buck is a Lebanese American writer, performer and intercultural educator who has worked in more than 22 countries. In 2014-15, she was artist-in-residence for Wesleyan University’s Doris Duke Foundation Building Bridges grant, teaching and creating work with students about the misrepresentation of Muslims in the U.S. She earned her MA at New York University, where she is now an adjunct professor in participatory performance and civic engagement.
7:30 p.m. (AANM)
Final Performance with a Mizna reading, open mic and after-party