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.

Research Focus

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.

Formally trained in sculpture, Zul Mahmod has continued to build and expand his practice over the last three years to include sculpted sound and live sound performances. Zul’s practice investigates the aural architecture of spaces in order to explore the emotional, behavioural and visceral responses of its inhabitants. While in residence, Zul will explore the aural relationship between readymade sound sculptures and the architecture of space. Sonic characteristics, forms and textures of everyday objects will be examined in order to compose an orchestra of sonic sculptures.

Working with a comparative methodology, Valentina Karga intends to delve deep into theories of prehistoric matriarchal societies. Still at an early stage of development, her inquiry embraces multiple sources and ultimately aims to intertwine myths, histories, and political implications of matriarchal societies with the Anthropocene discourse, engaging theories on the posthuman condition that advance the understanding of the planet as a homeostatic system where all living and non-living organisms are connected and interdependent. Among her current sources of inspiration are Helen Diner’s seminal work for women’s cultural history, Mothers and Amazons, published in 1932; Marija Gimbutas’ notion of “archaeomythology” which blends archaeology, comparative mythology, and folklore; and Bruno Latour’s reading of the Gaia Hypothesis formulated by James Lovelock in the 1970s. During the residency, the artist aims to expand her understanding of feminine symbolism by researching prehistoric symbols and archaeological excavations in Southeast Asia.

The artistic practice of Valentina Karga (b. 1986, Greece) spans the fields of architecture, socially engaged art, and performance. Interested in creating alternatives to existing societal and pedagogical structures, Kargadesigns conceptual infrastructures that encourage engagement and participation to facilitate practices of commoning and sustainability. Her works have been presented at Athens Biennale, Greece (2013); transmediale, Berlin, Germany (2016); and the inaugural Thailand Biennale (2018-19). She is a founding member of Collective Disaster, an interdisciplinary, transnational, and nomadic community that works in the intersections of art, architecture, and the social realm and is currently Professor for introduction to artistic work in Design at HFBK Hamburg, Germany.

During her residency, Weber will be collaborating with Annie Seaton. Annie Seaton and Tamara Weber work together as Close Readings, a collaborative project of visually informed investigative research. Close Readings’ recent works explore selective multimedia deconstruction. Their process involves, first, making photographs—then turning those images into xeroxes (or) otherwise altering them. In Singapore and New York, they will be simultaneously and asynchronously researching in various media. Through a collaborative process of visual and text-based interaction, Annie and Tamara will create book-like objects that will serve as blueprints for further work.

Simon Soon will be comparing the architecture and landscape of Nanyang University (1955-1980) and Chinese University of Hong Kong (1963-present), two Chinese-language institutions of higher learning in former British colonies. He is interested in exploring how the spatial design of these two institutions facilitate different experiences of cultural and political modernity as well as constructions of social memory. His residency at the NTU CCA Singapore will allow him to undertake the Singapore segment of his research as well as pursue further research on contemporary art in Singapore. His research will involve archival material into architectural histories in Singapore as well as the facilitation of a panel discussion with scholars and artists on the Nanyang University.

Sean Connelly (b.1984, United States) is an artist, urban ecologist, and architect. His research addresses the role of innovative design in recovering ahupua’a, a traditional Hawaiian spatial configuration. Connelly operates both independently and collaboratively out of his studio practice After Oceanic which pursues projects in the realms of architecture, landscape, and infrastructure. He is also the author and producer of Hawai‚Äòi Futures, a virtual intervention and educational tool for island urbanism. His work has been shown across the United States at the Honolulu Biennale (2017); Honolulu Museum of Art (2015) and Santa Fe Art Institute (2016).

Jamie North (b. 1971, Australia) is an artist based in Sydney. His practice explores the concurrence and conflict between architectural structures and the biological world. Initially working with photography, North’s interest in the ability of plants to recover, regenerate, and reclaim an environment after human intervention has shifted towards the creation of living sculptural installations. His work has been presented at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, 2016; Tophane-i Amire Cultural and Arts Center, Istanbul, Turkey, 2015; Monash University, Melbourne, 2015, amongst other venues.

Sally Tallant, presents a talk within our framework of our overarching curatorial narrative Place.Labour.Capital as her current position, Director of the Liverpool Biennial, is situated in a post-industrial port city feeling the effects of flows of global capital and an area which has historical known different routes of migration. During research Tallant will meet with a number of Singapore artists to understand their concerns and practices as well as visit institutions within Singapore to get an understanding of the arts ecosystem.

Sally Tallant (b. 1967, United Kingdom) is the Director of Liverpool Biennial ‚ The UK Biennial of International Contemporary Art. From 2001 ‚ 2011 she was Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, London where she was responsible for the development and delivery of an integrated programme of Exhibitions, Architecture, Education and Public Programmes. She has curated exhibitions in a wide range of contexts including the Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Hospitals, Schools as well as public commissions. She has developed commissioning programmes for artists in a range of contexts and developed long-term projects including The Edgware Road Project, Skills Exchange and Disassembly. She has also curated performances, sound events, film programmes and conferences. She is a regular contributor to conferences nationally and internationally. She is a Trustee of Metal, and Advisory Board Member of Open Arts Archive (Open University), a Board Member of the International Biennial Association and a member of the London Regional Council for the Arts Council of England.