23 Apr 2015 -
Judith Lee Stronach Center, Schermerhorn Hall 8th Floor,
1190 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

A discussion exploring Edge of Arabia's ongoing artist's road trip connecting the Middle East and the United States

Stephen Stapleton (Artist, Co-Founder and Director), Ava Ansari (Artist and Edge of Arabia Associate Curator and US Tour Manager) and Husam Al-Sayed (Filmmaker and Founding Member of Telfaz11) will join Moneera Al-Ghadeer (Visiting Professor, Columbia Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies) in conversation to discuss the mission and conceptual framework of Edge of Arabia's three-year tour across the United States. Using the tour as a primary point of departure, the conversation will explore the means by which contemporary Middle Eastern artists and curators are navigating a globalized institutional art world, the impact of ongoing international focus on the Middle East and Islam on cultural and artistic production in the region, the dissolution of geopolitical borders through informed dialogue, and the challenges and successes currently facing contemporary Middle Eastern art.

Borrowing its title from FREEWAY, the online broadcast platform of the tour, the discussion further explored the concept of journeying as an alternative form of cultural programing.

This event was organized by Vivian Chui (Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies, 2015) with support from the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

Featured Artists


Moneera Al-Ghadeer is a Visiting Professor of Arabic and comparative literary studies in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University and was a Shawwaf Visiting Professor at Harvard University (Fall 2014). She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work focuses on Arabic, African-American, and Francophone literature, feminist philosophy, postcolonial studies, and translation theory. Her book, Desert Voices: Bedouin Women’s Poetry in Saudi Arabia (I.B. Tauris/American University of Cairo Press, 2009), is the first theoretical analysis and English translation of Bedouin women’s oral poetry from Arabia. Currently, she is working on two manuscripts: The Anxiety of the Foreign and an edited book, Zoopoetics and the Politics of the Nonhuman. Her latest research seeks to investigate and translate the new writing in the Arabian Peninsula. Professor Al-Ghadeer has contributed to higher education by serving as the Director of Postgraduate Studies and Research in the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar (2012–2014) and as Chair of the Department of English Literature and Linguistics at Qatar University (2008–2012). Professor Al-Ghadeer was formerly a professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature (2001–2010) in the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She also served as Honorary Visiting Professor of Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (2010–2012). She is on the advisory board of the Journal of Arabic Literature (2011–present) and served on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (2005–2010). She has published many articles, book chapters, reviews, short stories, and translations in Arabic and English.


Ava Ansari is an artist, educator, and curator. She is the associate curator of The Edge of Arabia US Tour, where she recently co-curated the Culturunners Storytelling Symposium hosted by MIT's Art, Culture and Technology Program. She is the co-founder of The Back Room, a curatorial and pedagogical project that facilitates exchanges between artists and scholars in Iran and the US. Recent projects include, Open Relationship, an eight-week workshop developed in collaboration with CultureHub in New York, Sazmanab Center for Contemporary Art in Tehran, and Mani Studio in Isfahan; I Am Only a Reporter, an exhibition of later works by Ardeshir Mohassess, Modern Section of Art Dubai, 2014; A Call, a project conceptualized with Wafaa Bilal and eighty participating performers, which opened concurrently at Aaran Gallery in Tehran, and White Box in New York. As an artist, Ansari has presented work at ISEA2014, Dixon Place, La Mama, Eyebeam, the AC Institute, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, among others.

Husam Al-Sayed is a Saudi-based Palestinian filmmaker and founding member of the Telfaz 11, one of the Middle East's most influential Arabic online video networks based in Riyadh. With over seven million subscribers and over 750 million views throughout its network, Telfaz11 has attracted and helped launch some of the top creative internet talent in the Middle East.

Stephen Stapleton is an artist, curator, and co-founder of Edge of Arabia and The Crossway Foundation. After an artist's journey across the Middle East in 2003, he founded both organizations as platforms for creative collaboration and cultural activism between the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. Since 2008, he has produced a number of landmark international exhibitions including Never Never Land, EOA London Gallery (2014), Rhizoma, 55th Venice Biennale (2013); #COMETOGETHER, East London (2012); We Need to Talk, Jeddah (2012); The Future of a Promise, 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Terminal, Dubai (2011); and Edge of Arabia, University of London (2008). He has also published several artists' books including "Offscreen: Four Young Artists in the Middle East" (Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2004) and "Edge of Arabia" (Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2010). He has a degree in fine art and philosophy from the University of Brighton, a PGCE in art education from the University of London. As an artist, he has exhibited in Tehran, Amman, London, Oslo and New York.

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