Speaker Biographies: Matthew Mazzotta works at the intersection of art, activism, and urbanism, focusing on the power of the built environment to shape our relationships and experiences. His community specific public projects integrate new forms of civic participation and social engagement into the built environment and reveal how the spaces we travel through and spend our time living in have the potential to become distinct sites for intimate, radical, and meaningful exchanges. Stemming from this approach are experiences that involve people from a range of backgrounds working together to create new models of living that contribute to local culture beyond the economic realm. Rashad Salim is an Iraqi-German expeditionary artist and designer with an interest in the history and development of culture and technology.
Arabic literaturethe body of written works produced in the Arabic language. The tradition of Arabic literature stretches back some 16 centuries to unrecorded beginnings in the Arabian Peninsula. At certain points in the development of European civilization, the literary culture of Islam and its Arabic medium of expression came to be regarded not only as models for emulation but also, through vital conduits such as Moorish Spain and Norman Sicily, as direct sources of inspiration for the intellectual communities of Europe. The rapid spread of the Islamic faith brought the original literary tradition of the Arabian Peninsula into contact with many other cultural traditions—Byzantine, PersianIndian, Amazigh Berberand Andalusian, to name just a few—transforming and being transformed by all of them. At the turn of the 21st century, the powerful influence of the West tended to give such contacts a more one-sided directionality, but Arab litterateurs were constantly striving to find ways of combining the generic models and critical approaches of the West with more indigenous sources of inspiration drawn from their own literary heritage.
The Jeddah-born photographer was an architecture student and that passion has become his main source of inspiration for his work, and the lens through which he scrutinizes social and cultural issues. Kanee is a painter and mixed-media artist born in Jeddah whose landscapes and portraits focus on everyday life in the Kingdom, often depicting the clash between modernization and heritage. Al-Shemimry is a Jeddah-based sound artist also known as Desertfish. The Jeddah-born artist and graphic designer relies heavily on research for his artworks, often using found material to create them. In the early days, it was loud-mouthed brat Bart who grabbed the most attention, but others caught up with him quickly, particularly bumbling dad Homer, who became a much more sympathetic and well-rounded character as the show but not the characters aged.
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