July 21

Secession garden


July 21, 6pm
Panel: Form as Identity / Identity as Form
Azra Akšamija (Artist, Architectural historian, Cambridge), Nebahat Avicoglu (Architectural historian, Paris), Christina Lenart (Architectural student, Vienna), Thomas Pucher (Architect, Graz)
Moderation: Nasrine Seraji (Architect, Paris)

Keynote Lecture:
Nebahat Avicoglu, Form as Identity / Identity as Form: How did we get here?

By questioning the fixed categories of both Islamic culture and mosque architecture this lecture contributes to the current debate on the creative possibilities of Islamic art outside the confines of tradition, untied to particular places or histories. It will touch upon Azra Akšamija’s work as an example of a creative ability to interrogate Islamic practices in the fluid context of contemporary Vienna and Muslim life.

Nebahat Avicoglu is currently based at the Columbia University Research Center at Reid Hall, in Paris. She also teaches as an Adjunct Associate Professor in Islamic Cultures at the American University of Paris. She is the author of several articles on architecture and the cultural exchanges between Europe and the Middle East from the 17th to the 20th century.

Azra Akšamija, Negotiating Identity: Twenty-first century mosques in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The ethnic cleansing of Muslims and the massive destruction of their cultural heritage during the war of 1992- 95 and in Bosnia-Herzegovina have intensified Bosnian Muslims’ quest for a national identity. Having achieved political sovereignty within a multi-party democracy, Bosnian Muslims have recently adopted the more secular term “Bosniaks” as their national denomination. At this timely moment, Akšamija’s dissertation takes on the controversial subject of identity-construction in relation to being a Muslim, a Bosniak, and a European nation. To that end, research encompasses case studies of mosques built over the course of the past fifteen years. Evaluating them in their social, political and historical context, Akšamija will explore how mosque architecture in Bosnia-Herzegovina reveals the many levels by which identity is produced, as well as the variety of ways in which architecture speaks to Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to the world.

Azra Aksamija is an artist and architect based in Cambridge, USA. Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1976, she has been affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Ph.D. candidate since fall 2004. Her work has been widely published and exhibited.

Christina Lenart, Hidden Representation

Muslims in Vienna make up 7% of the whole population, that are over 120 000 people. In spite of this number their religious practice remains invisible because of the argument of disturbing the city’s appearance. Beside one single visible mosque in the 21st district, there are about 50 mosques installed in flats. Muslims are asked for more transparency in their cultural life, but do not get the possibility to manifest themselves in the public. The separate underground organisation of Muslims forms a parallel city that is driven into isolation itself.
The film tries to show aspects of this parallel existence which produces a second readability of the city. DONAUTURM is indicating this second layer by a visual coincidence happening at a certain point of view in front of the mosque at Am Hubertusdamm. Because of perspective distortion, one of Vienna’s skyline generating sights, the Donauturm, appears as the second minaret.
PRAY-TIME portrays the praying procedure of two men and follows them to their places of withdrawal during a usual day.

Christina Lenart, born 1984 in Vienna, has studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts since 2002. The films developed out of a study project in 2004/05 by Eyal Weizman and Bernd Vlay

Thomas Pucher, International competition fort he new headquarter of the O.I.C. in Jedda, Saudi Arabia

Thomas Pucher will present the 50.000m² project for the O.I.C. as well as his personal approach to this challenge, the Islamic culture and how a young architect from Central Europe is granted with the trust of a whole Islamic country.

Thomas Pucher is head of the architectural office Atelier Thomas Pucher in Graz, Austria. Since 1998 he is teaching at the Technical University and the University of Applied Sciences in Graz. Currently he has several architectural projects under way in Austria and abroad, among them the New Headquarter for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (O.I.C.) in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he won the international competition in 2006.

Nasrine Seraji, born in Tehran, studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London before founding her own studio in Paris. Architect of the Temporary American Centre in Paris and the Pavilion of the Caverne du Dragon in the north of France and of housing complexes in France and in Vienna. She is currently professor and head of the Institute for Art and Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and is directing at École Nationale Superieure d’Architecture Paris Malaquais.

September 28, 7pm
Performative Gedächtnisstrategien
Mechtild Wiedrich (Art historian, Cambridge, Vienna), lecture with a discussion to follow with Azra Akšamija (Artist/ Architectural historian, Cambridge) and Heidi Pretterhofer (Architect, Vienna)

The lecture explores how performative and interactive strategies in the contemporary art contribute to community-making and constructing of cultural memory. It also deals with the fascination around the notion of the “performative” in the contemporary art theory. The lecture will examine how far the engagement of the body in contemporary art projects is necessary to transmit and anchor a historicity of cultural tradition. One example of such a project is Azra Akšamija’s work. How much is the notion of the “performative” helpful to form a new democratic” model of history through theory?

Mechtild Widrich is an art historian and currently a doctoral candidate in the history, theory and criticism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her dissertation deals with the interface between performance and monument in public space. She has written extensively on contemporary art and cultural history.

September 29, 7pm
Maghrib-Reading, with Mouhanad Khorchide
Koran recitation in Arabic and Germa.
The musicality and visuality of the Koran is presented from an aesthetic point of view.

Reading with music
Der Himmel in meinem Land hat eine andere Farbe: The life stories of Middle Eastern women in Vienna and German-speaking women in the Middle East
With Edith Binderhofer and Marwan Abado

Edith Binderhofer reads excerpts from Der Himmel in meinem Land hat eine andere Farbe: Lebensgeschichten. Gespräche mit asiatischen Frauen in Wien (Edition Roesner, Maria Enzersdorf, 2005) and her soon to be released book on German-speaking women from Arab countries, Iran and Turkey.
Marwan Abado accompanies the reading on the oud.

Edith Binderhofer has lived in Paris, Kairo, Essen, Frankfurt/Main and currently in Vienna again. She is an author, a specialist in German studies and an historian with a special interest in the Middle East. For twenty years, professionally and personally, she’s crossed many borders between western and eastern worlds with much joy and gratitude.

Marwan Abado, born in Beirut as the son of a Palestinian refugee family, has lived in Vienna since 1985. Since 1987 he’s been active as a musician, singer, componist and player of the oud (a Middle-Eastern short neck lute). He’s performed in Europe, the Arab world, Cuba and USA and has released numerous CD’s, music for film and theatre.