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Art, Activism, and Migration: An Evening with Khaled Barakeh

Image courtesy of Khaled Barakeh

ArteEast, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection, and the MacDowell Colony are pleased to present:

Art, Activism and Migration An Evening with Khaled Barakeh

in conversation with MacDowell visual artist alumna Dahlia Elsayed
Introduced by MacDowell poet alumna Eileen Myles

Q&A and reception to follow


October 28, 6:30 PM
MacDowell NY
521 West 23rd St
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10011

This event is free and open to the public. Limited seating by ticket.

What does it mean to be a Syrian artist living in exile today? How does one organize a cultural community of practitioners that exists more concretely virtually than it does in person? With the whole world involved in the Syrian crisis, what do Syrian artists do to get their displaced community actively involved in the global art scene? What does it mean to create the first mobile Syrian Biennale, which traces the route of refugees from Lebanon to Central Europe?

Join us for a discussion exploring these questions and more with Syrian-born, Berlin-based conceptual artist Khaled Barakeh. Working in the incredibly crucial nexus of art, activism, migration, and community-building, Barakeh will give a lecture on his artistic practice, his platform CoCulture*, which elevates the work of other migrant artists from the Middle-East, and his experience using art as a tool for social change and in response to the Syrian crisis.

This event is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust.

Additional support for this program was provided by the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Center through a grant from the Ford Foundation-IIE.

Speaker Bios:

Khaled Barakeh is a conceptual artist and cultural activist. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria in 2005, received his MFA at Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark in 2010 and in 2013, he completed a Meisterschuler studies at the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt a.M., Germany.The geographical shift in Khaled Barakeh’s life – moving from Syria to Europe – resulted in major changes in his approach towards his work; originally trained as a painter, he then developed a stronger focus on contemporary art practices, working with a variety of media and topics.Barakeh is considered part of a global artivism movement; he approaches creative practices as a tool of social changes and cultural preservation. As a continuation of these activities outside of his artistic practice, he has recently founded a non-profit organisation, coculture e.V., through which he manages several initiatives, such as SYRIA Cultural Index and the Syrian Biennale, focused on connecting and empowering displaced cultural producers in the Middle East, Europe and beyond.

Khaled Barakeh has exhibited at MKG Hamburg, Shanghai Biennale, Salt Istanbul, Kunsthalle Brandts, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Artspace New Zealand, Busan Biennale, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and many other venues around the world.

Dahlia Elsayed makes fictional landscapes in pictorial spaces that are simultaneously flat and real, creating myth pictures for placelessness. Her work has been exhibited widely including the 12th Cairo Biennale, Robert Miller Gallery, BravinLee Programs, The New Jersey State Museum and Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, and is in the public collections of the Newark Museum, the Zimmerli Museum, Johnson & Johnson Corporation, the US Department of State, amongst others. Dahlia has received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, Women’s Studio Workshop, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the NJ State Council on the Arts.

*About CoCulture:CoCulture is a Berlin-based non-profit founded in 2017 by artist Khaled Barakeh, serving as an umbrella organization to initiate and develop artistic and social projects. CoCulture’s main objective is to address different facets of the challenges faced by displaced culture and cultural producers through a broad scope of projects and activities in the Middle East, Europe and beyond, aiming to improve the situation of artists in exile while actively contributing to the local cultural scene.

The most significant projects at CoCulture are the Syria Cultural Index, the Syrian Biennale, and Giving Spaces and Support the Supporters.

Syria Cultural Index is an online network of the global Syrian artistic community.

A website that functions as a gallery to showcase art works; as a resource for opportunities and support; as a global network of artists, art professionals and institutions; as an online space for collaborations and exchanges; as a database and information portal.

Syrian Biennale is the first mobile exhibition showcasing Syrian and international artists within the framework of a biennale, taking place every second year. The Syrian Biennale will change its location with every edition, following the route of Syrian refugees from Lebanon to central Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Support the Supporters is a career development program tailored to the needs of Berlin-based art practitioners with a forced migration background, aiming to support their professional development through CoCulture’s resources and infrastructure.

We believe in the importance of knowledge and skills sharing and want to ensure that the workshops are precisely customized to the personal needs and possibilities of each participant, The Support the Supporters program offers not only a space for the creation of one’s own initiatives and institutions, but also tangible solutions for their development.

Supported by:

Additional support for this program was provided by the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Center through a grant from the Ford Foundation-IIE.