ARTSLINK ASSEMBLY 2021

FUTURE FELLOWS

November 1 - 19, 2021

ArtsLink Assembly 2021 focuses on 10 independent artists and arts leaders building new networks locally and transnationally to support and sustain independent artists in a post-pandemic world

Through dialogue with each other and independent cultural hubs and sharing practices, the Future Fellows are exploring inspirational new models for artists working in community and public contexts. They are proposing a new arts ecology for the 21st century. The ArtsLink Assembly 2021 presents their manifestos in dialogue with the ArtsLink International Fellows from 9 countries.

We need to learn more about each other’s experiences, ideas and challenges to create an artistic, collective voice that can participate in change beyond just adaptation

Noura Murad, founder of Leish Troupe, Syria

ArtsLink Assembly, a virtual transnational meeting of artists, organizations, and activists, advocates for our core mission, the vital importance of transnational cultural mobility. 

Future Fellows

The Future is Now: Future Fellows’ Manifestos
Monday, November 1
Posted online at 12:00 pm EDT
Selma Banich
Zagreb, Croatia

Selma Banich is an artist, educator and community organizer. Her socially engaged practice is based on explorative, processual, and activist work, and is politically inspired by anarchism and feminism. Selma has worked independently and in collaboration with other artists, curators, groups, and initiatives in the Balkans, across Europe, and in the US. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Rusanda Curca
Hirtop, Moldova

Rusanda Curcă is a cultural worker, environmental and civic activist living in Hîrtop village, Republic of Moldova. She is the co-directrice of the Center for Cultural Projects Arta Azi, with a focus on developing the theatre sector within the country. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Fatin Farhat
Ramallah, Palestine

An experienced arts manager, curator and policy maker, Fatin Farhat is the founding director of the Palestine Observatory for Cultural Policy, where she curates and manages projects that foster community participation through the arts. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Leyli Gafarova
Baku, Azerbaijan

Leyli Gafarova is an independent filmmaker and co-creator of Salaam Cinema Baku, a community based cinema and art space. She has shot and directed “Once upon a Time in Shanghai” (2018), a documentary film about the production of a feature film in the eponymous neighborhood located between Baku’s major railway lines. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Cannupa is a multidisciplinary artist who uses social collaboration in response to timely and site-specific issues. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, technology and repurposed materials, Cannupa interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, he is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold and is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota and European descent. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Ambrose Idemudia
Lagos, Nigeria

Ambrose Idemudia is one of the founding members of the Westsyde Lifestyle collective in Lagos, Nigeria. Deeply anchored in Lagos street and urban culture and featured in major blogs and lifestyle magazines, Westsyde Lifestyle is producing performances and videos, collaborating with afrobeat artists including Olamide, Burna Boy, Davido, Yemi Alade, but also music stars such as Major Lazer and Beyoncé. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Elena Ishchenko
Krasnodar, Russia

Elena is a curator, researcher and writer. Since 2017 Elena has been a curator at the Typography Center for Contemporary Art in Krasnodar. In 2018, Elena together with curator Maria Sarycheva organized an imaginary organization League of Tenders which researches notions of care and play in various collectivities. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Qondiswa James
Cape Town, South Africa

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a theatre-maker, performance artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. She has directed theatre works including A Faint Patch of Light (Standard Bank Ovation Award 2019) and A Howl in Makhanda  (Artscape Schools Festival). More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Marat Raiymkulov and Malika Umarova (Art Group 705)
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Marat Raiymkulov is a professor of physics, a director of experimental theater, an actor, a founding member and the creative nucleus of the Bishkek-based art space and collective, Art Group 705. His work ranges from performance lecture, animation and video art, drawings and installation, to the direction and production of plays, as well as dramaturgical writing, fiction, and essays. More info

Malika Umarova is an artist with practices in graphics, painting, animation. She is currently running an experimental children’s art project at Bilimkana school. She’s been as part of the artistic collective Art Group 705 working with theater and participatory projects since 2014. Malika has been a co-curator of the Bishkek April Fool Contest since 2017.  More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1
Amirah Sackett
Chicago, IL, USA

An internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Amirah Sackett explores and embodies her Muslim American identity through combining hip-hop movement and Islamic themes. She is widely known for her creation of the choreography and performance group known as We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic. More info

Manifesto will be posted on November 1

Future Fellows in Conversation

Wednesday, November 17
12:00 - 1:30 pm EDT
Recorded Video stream, available at any time
Future Fellows in Conversation

The Future Fellows explore inspirational new models for working in community and public contexts and propose a new arts ecology beyond existing arts infrastructures. Moderated by Megha Ralapati, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL.

Future Transnational Models of Independent Practice

Friday, November 19
10:00 - 11:30 am EDT
Recorded Video stream
Future Fellows in Conversation Re-Run

The Future Fellows explore inspirational new models for working in community and public contexts and propose a new arts ecology beyond existing arts infrastructures. Moderated by Megha Ralapati, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL.

Friday, November 19
12:00 - 2:00 pm EDT
Livestream / live questions and comments
Future Transnational Models of Independent Practice

Transnational artists and arts leaders discuss with Kendal Henry (NY DCLA) the Future Fellows’ manifestos in relation to their own work and practices.

ArtsLink International Fellows 2020
Yoanna Ayers, Poland
Mikheil Sulakauri, Georgia
Ashot Danielyan, Uzbekistan
Bermet Borubaeva, Kyrgyzstan
Iman Zaki, Egypt
Ann Mirjam Vaikla, Estonia
Katja Sulc, Slovenia
Mirna Bamieh, Palestine
Alevtyna Kakhidze, Ukraine

Friday, November 19
3:30 - 5:00 pm EDT
Livestream / live questions and comments
RESPONSE ABILITY*

Presented in partnership with Vera List Center for Art and Politics

The Argentinian collective Etcétera presents a manifesto about ecocide, as part of the second chapter of NEO-EXTRA-ACTIVISM, Protocols of Buen Vivir, their project for the 2020-2022 Boris Lurie Vera List Center fellowship.

Ecocide is mass damage and destruction of ecosystems – severe harm to nature which is widespread or long-term. In recent months, legal experts from around the world have come together to rework a definition of ecocide, which is intended to be adopted by the international criminal court to prosecute the most atrocious crimes against the environment.

Seeking to give support and visibility for this new definition of the crime of ecocide, Etcétera presents a jam session on ecocide, an artistic improvisation that combines poetry, music, and performance that brings together a collection of voices, images, testimonies, and public actions around this topic.

The first chapter of their fellowship project, NO WORK, NO SHOP: Socio-Environmental Imagination and Pedagogies of Action coincided with Earth Day 2021 and featured artists and environmental activists in conversation.

*The word responsibility as “response ability” is a concept developed by John Cage (1912-1992) that proposes shifting an ethics of accountability to an aesthetic of engagement

SPEAKERS

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Poland
Krakow
Music

Kosciuszko ArtsLink Fellow, musician, performer and folk tale narrator Yoanna Ayers collects and performs stories and songs of the peoples of Poland and the Caucasus. Her practice investigates how working with the human voice can contribute to the well-being of communities. Immersing into the connection between voice, body and emotions, Yoanna addresses post-trauma issues with an emphasis on women who have experienced war. She employs voice healing techniques, body movement and imagination as vehicles to overcome traumas in the world’s conflict zones.

Having spent a significant amount of time in the Republic of Georgia, Yoanna has collected stories by women of different ethnicities who went through one of the most brutal ethnic and civil wars inherited from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early ‘90s. Those stories were presented in Yoanna’s solo performance which toured around small communities in southern Poland promoting respect for otherness and crushing the growing stereotypes about different social models, cultures, and faiths.

For her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Yoanna explores voice-healing methodologies and their connection to body and emotions. Yoanna and her US host organization Found Sound Nation launched collaborations with a wide span of creative professionals in music, documentary, installation art, oral history, and somatic healing methodologies using Georgian and Polish songs and oral histories collected during the last decade in the Republic of Georgia. This collaboration explores ways of arranging and performing this music incorporating visual and oral storytelling from Georgia.

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Palestine
Multidisciplinary

Live performance and culinary artist Mirna Bamieh is the creator and director of the Palestine Hosting Society. This live art project explores traditional food cultures in Palestine especially those on the verge of disappearing. It brings vanishing dishes back to life over dinner tables, walks, and various interventions. Food has always been a representation of time and power. It creates a significantly different atmosphere for encounters. Sharing food puts on the table aspects of hospitality, distribution, exchange, familiarity and pleasure. A shared meal can become a space of reflection on socio-political realities, attitudes, fashions, and even the suppressed elements of history.

Mirna also works with pottery using natural materials, tribal designs and early ceramic techniques that disappeared from most of the Mediterranean region and the Iberian Peninsula in the 17th century.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Mirna continues exploring the bacterial and fungi kingdom of fermentation. A staple link in the gastronomic traditions in the East, fermented food entered American cuisine quite recently, and with a degree of hesitation. Creating her own ceramic vessels in Deborah, Iowa as future plating for fermented foods, Mirna’s food interacts with these sculptural objects. Through performance and storytelling, in collaboration with her US host The Invisible Dog Art Center, the artist invites the audience to a dinner based on traditional food practices in Palestine and the Middle East and fermentation cultures throughout the world.

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Croatia
Zagreb
Performance Art

Selma Banich (born in 1979 in Yugoslavia, lives in Zagreb) is an artist, educator and community organizer. Her socially engaged practice is based on explorative, processual, and activist work, and is politically inspired by anarchism and feminism. Selma has worked independently and in collaboration with other artists, curators, groups, and initiatives in the Balkans, across Europe, and in the US. She has participated in numerous dance, theater, and opera productions as a choreographer, and has also performed on film. She participates in local and transnational solidarity initiatives related to the ongoing feminist, anti-fascist, migrant, and workers’ struggles. Currently, those initiatives are Transbalkan Solidarity and For BREAD.

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Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek
Multidisciplinary

Urban environmentalist and labor rights activist Bermet Borubaeva uses trash as a medium in her work. Bermet is interested in the intersection of arts, climate science, and environmental inequality. Her practice is dedicated to the global problem of food waste and growing ecological disruptions caused by excessive urbanization. Bermet is a co-founder of Bishkek School of Contemporary Art.

Bermet draws our attention to industrial overproduction of processed food and the carelessness with which humans waste almost half of these products rather than bake their own bread or cook dinners. Global food mass production contributes to the destruction of the planet’s ecological systems, causing massive deforestation, the pollution of oceans and scarcity of freshwater. Her work on environmental inequality helps us understand that the developed world’s privileged indulgence in haute cuisine leads to the production of food waste on an enormous scale. At the same time, the food insecurity for hundreds of millions in developing countries is rapidly increasing due to the inequities brought into stark focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist’s most recent intervention highlighted this issue when she lived exclusively on leftover food while working as a cook in a café.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Bermet and her US host organization Hyde Park Art Center, in collaboration with Chicago-based Urban Growers Collective, present a research-focused inter-city, international platform and public program which began with activities in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in spring 2020. The overarching project titled Trash culminates in a series of workshops and open conversations among artists and practitioners, and a public program with both in-person and virtual components to open the project to as wide an audience as possible.

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Moldova
Hîrtop village
Theater

Rusanda Curcă is a cultural worker, environmental and civic activist living in Hîrtop village, Republic of Moldova. She is the co-directrice of the Center for Cultural Projects Arta Azi, with a focus on developing the theatre sector within the country. Also, Rusanda was recently elected the co-directrice of the Coalition of the independent cultural sector from Republic of Moldova, an umbrella organization that unites the representatives of the independent cultural scene in order to consolidate it and which aims to improve the legislation in the field of culture through advocacy activities.

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Uzbekistan
Tashkent
Multidisciplinary

Musician, poet and performing artist Ashot Danielyan advocates art as an instrument for social change, a new and unfamiliar concept in Uzbekistan. The repressive political regime in Uzbekistan over the past three decades has resulted in isolation in artistic and social life leading to severe stasis. The dominance of the academic art school inherited from the Soviet past ensures that the local art community follows conformist self-censorship and aggressively rejects new ideas or socially engaged art practices.

Ashot’s project A Man With The Stool addresses many of these issues through performance, poetry, music, photography and video. Having introduced the project in the major cities of Uzbekistan, Ashot is planning to tour it around Central Asian republics to build cultural bridges among these disconnected nations.

During his ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Ashot met professional and civic communities and explored cross-cultural experiences and socially engaged art practices which emerge from poetry, alternative music and theater. Sharing interest and practice in Japanese history, language, culture, experimental poetry, performance, and book-making, Ashot and his US collaborator Mami Takahashi of PICA, launch a series of poetry readings, artist talks and conversations. The multi-city cultural exchange resulted from Ashot’s and Mami’s virtual residency in 2020 and takes place at PICA and other cultural and educational institutions in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago in 2021.

Argentina
Buenos Aires
Multidisciplinary

Etcétera is the 2020-2022 Boris Lurie Fellow, whose fellowship project, NEO-EXTRA-ACTIVISM, is part of the Vera List Center’s As for Protocols cycle of programs. Formed in 1997 in Buenos Aires, Etcétera is a multidisciplinary collective composed of visual artists, poets, and performers. Since 2007, it has been led by co-founders Loreto Garín Guzmán (Chile) and Federico Zukerfeld (Argentina). In 2005, they were part of the founding of the International Errorist movement, an international organization that proclaims error as a philosophy of life. In addition to participating in exhibitions in museums and biennials such as the biennials of Jakarta (2015), São Paulo (2014), Athens (2013), Istanbul (2009), and Taipei (2008), they often work with street-art, public interventions, actions, and performances that are necessarily contextual, ephemeral, and circumstantial. In 2015, they received the Prince Claus Award in the Netherlands. Their work has been recognized for its denouncement of human rights and environmental abuses through theatrical and poetic actions and statements often exercised at personal risk.

Palestine
Ramallah
Multidisciplinary

An experienced arts manager, curator and policy maker, Fatin Farhat is the founding director of the Palestine Observatory for Cultural Policy, where she curates and manages projects that foster community participation through the arts.

Fatin has overseen a broad spectrum of cultural initiatives and artistic programs from street festivals to municipal policy. Currently she is working on her Ph.D. from Hildesheim University (Germany) and examining the potential that grassroots initiatives and the local government can play in fostering community engagement and cultural development in Palestine. Fatin is currently developing a new art and community program – In Our Houses – in Kobar village in the West Bank, where the inhabitants become curators, organizing and presenting shows in the village’s houses and gardens.

Passionately interested in community-based art, Fatin wanted to engage in projects that involve the Arabic community in the US. In the climate of Islamophobia and racism, she was interested in exploring art as a form of resistance and resilience for marginalized communities. She believes the gap between the US and her home region is widening and that artistic cooperation is a powerful and vital instrument to foster deeper understanding.

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Azerbaijan
Baku

Leyli Gafarova was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, raised in The Netherlands, and is currently based in Baku. She is an independent filmmaker and co-creator of Salaam Cinema Baku, a community based cinema and art space. She has shot and directed “Once upon a Time in Shanghai” (2018), a documentary film about the production of a feature film in the eponymous neighborhood, itself located between Baku’s major railway lines. Her practice centers around processes, research and discoveries.

Leyli is interested in subjects such as gender, national identity, urbanism and (self)- censorship. When producing works she searches for ways to question what is natural and what is constructed. She has curated film programs, educational programs and exhibitions among which: Hometown Weather, Women With Moustaches and Men Without Beards and co-curated Things We Sense About Each other.

Social Media Tag: #leyligafarova
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Salaam Cinema:

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United States
New Mexico

Cannupa Hanska Luger is a multidisciplinary artist who uses social collaboration in response to timely and site-specific issues. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, technology and repurposed materials, he interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st Century Indigeneity. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, he is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold and is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota and European descent.

Cannupa combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments, and communities he engages and provokes diverse audiences to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring, often presenting a call to action to protect land and water from capitalist exploits. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Gardiner Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Denver Art Museum, Art Mûr, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. He lectures and produces large-scale projects around the globe and his works are in many public collections. Cannupa is a recipient of a 2021 United States Artists Fellowship Award for Craft and was named a 2021 GRIST Fixer, he is a 2020 Creative Capital Fellow, a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, and the recipient of the Museum of Arts and Design’s 2018 inaugural Burke Prize, among others.

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United States
New York
New York

Kendal Henry is an Assistant Commissioner, Public Art, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. As an artist and curator, he has specialized in the field of public art for over 30 years. Kendal practice illustrates that public art can be used as a tool for social engagement, civic pride and economic development through the projects and programs he’s initiated in the US and internationally. He believes that the most successful public artworks start with the question, “What is the artwork to achieve?” and takes into account both the audience and surrounding environment in the creation of that artwork.

Kendal served as the Director of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program. He is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development as well as a guest lecturer at various universities and educational institutions, including the Rhode Island School of Design Senior Studio and Pratt Institute’s Arts and Cultural Management Program.

Previously, as the Director of Culture and Economic Development for the City of Newburgh, NY Kendal created the region’s first Percent for Art Program. Prior to that post, he was Manager of Arts Programs at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit for eleven years. During this time, he oversaw the commissioning, fabrication and installation of MTA’s permanent art projects, served as a member of the MTA’s in-house design team, and produced temporary exhibitions at Grand Central Terminal. He was also the Curator-at-large at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, NY and was elected to serve two 3-year terms on the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council.

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Nigeria
Lagos
Performance

Ambrose Idemudia is one of the founding members of the Westsyde Lifestyle collective in Lagos, Nigeria. Deeply anchored in Lagos street and urban culture and featured in major blogs and lifestyle magazines, Westsyde Lifestyle is producing performances and videos, collaborating with afrobeat artists including Olamide, Burna Boy, Davido, Yemi Alade, but also music stars such as Major Lazer and Beyoncé. Closely working with Qudus Onikeku, they were awarded in 2018 the first Prize of the Nigerian dance award. In 2020, dancer Love Divine, one the group’s pillars, suddenly died. But Westsyde are going on – as they say, they are ‘survivors’.

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Russia
Krasnodar

Elena is a curator, researcher and writer. Since 2017 Elena has been a curator at the Typography Center for Contemporary Art in Krasnodar. In 2018 Elena together with curator Maria Sarycheva organized an imaginary organization League of Tenders which researches notions of care and play in various collectivities. Between 2015–2017 Elena worked in the Research Department at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow as part of the research group for the project Open Systems: Self-Organized Art Initiatives in Russia: 2000–2015. Nominee for the INNOVATION Contemporary Art Prize 2017 in the Curatorial Project category and winner of the INNOVATION Contemporary Art Prize 2018 in the Regional Project category for Supercover exhibition and festival. Her curatorial and research work focuses on self-organized initiatives, art communities, and collective practices in art. 

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South Africa
Cape Town
Theater

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, instillation artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. She is currently studying her Masters in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art at the Institute of Creative Arts. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilizing transgression.

Qondiswa has directed theatre works including A Faint Patch of Light (nominated for Best New Director and Best Actor, Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards 2019 and winner of a 2019 Standard Bank Ovation Award). She staged two new original plays A Howl in Makhanda (Cape Town School’s Festival 2020), and Ndinxaniwe at the National Arts Festival 2021. In November 2019 she participated in Infecting the City Public Art Festival with her intervention, Jailbed. She was a curator of the Malibongwe Women in Theatre Festival (2020). Her onscreen appearances include High Fantasy (DIFF 2018 Best South African Film Award, Artistic Bravery Award), and Letters from the Continent (Holland Festival 2021). Her debut installation work was part of Spier Light Art Festival 2019/2020. She is currently working as a curator on the online stop-GBV+F campaign, Body of Evidence.

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Ukraine
Muzychi
Multidisciplinary

Embracing ideas of consumption, gender, love, power, protest culture, experience of war, plants and dogs, Alevtyna Kakhidze is co-founder of a residency program for international artists in the village of Muzychi, The Muzychi Expanded History Project. Having grown up in the coal mining Donetsk region of Ukraine, she has experienced the country’s abrupt and chaotic changes from the days of the USSR to the post-Soviet imbalanced environment, including the current undeclared war between Russia and Ukraine.

To raise awareness of climate change and more sustainable living in the era of global shifts in society, especially in post-pandemic times, she has initiated the laboratory Adult Garden to observe coexistence and the dynamics of plants freed from the gardener’s intervention.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Alevtyna and her US collaborators embark on a garden-focused project that centers on critical observation of organized experimental gardens and natural conservation areas. Using aerial drone photography, stationary cameras, and analysis of plants’ biochemical composition, the artists and scientists from University of Kansas study and learn from the competition and collaboration observable among plants, but also between plants and living organisms such as insects and birds.  Case studies focus on the interaction between native and non-native (including invasive) plants, and explore the cases when a plant native to the US became invasive in Ukraine and vice versa. The project also includes a computer-assisted analysis of gathered data. Beyond science, the artists engages with ethnobotany and learns about traditional Native American practices of gardening and medicinal plant use.

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Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek

Marat Raiymkulov is an artist whose works have been shown at the Central Asia Pavilion during the 54th edition of The Venice Biennial, Italy (2011); Laura Bulian Gallery, Milano, Italy (2012); the Oslo Screen Festival, Norway (2013); Art Dubai (2014); The Centre d’Art Contemporain, Switzerland (2015); die Grenze in Moscow (2017); the Asia Society during Asia Contemporary Art Week in New York (2017) and in many other international contexts. He is also a professor of physics, a director of experimental theater, an actor, a founding member and the creative nucleus of the Bishkek-based art space and collective, Group 705. His work ranges from performance lecture, animation and video art, drawings and installation, to the direction and production of plays, as well as dramaturgical writing, fiction, and essays.

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United States
Chicago
Illinois

Megha Ralapati is the Residency Program Director at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, where she curates the Jackman Goldwasser Residency and initiates institutional collaborations. Megha also develops independent curatorial, research based, and collaborative projects focusing on contemporary art from the Indian subcontinent and its relationship with other geographies. 

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United States
Chicago
Illinois
Dance

An internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Amirah Sackett explores and embodies her Muslim American identity through combining hip-hop movement and Islamic themes. She is widely known for her creation of the choreography and performance group known as, We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic, which reached viral video fame after being featured on POPSUGAR Celebrity, The Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy. Amirah was named one of “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great in 2016” by The Huffington Post. She was honored to be a TEDx speaker, guest lecturer at Harvard University, and a cultural diplomat with the U.S. State Department in Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Kuwait. Based in Chicago, Amirah continues to teach the next generation and encourage emerging artists to use hip-hop culture as a way to uplift, inspire, and create social change.

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Georgia
Tbilisi
Multimedia

Artist and activist Mishiko Sulakauri’s practice focuses on engaging in deep dialogues with local communities. Central issues in his work are unregulated gentrification, the connection between art and religion, abandoned spaces and their owners, and governmental indifference to environmental protection. His most recent project, Arcadia Archeological Museum, reflected on the historic neighborhood Arcadia in Odessa, Ukraine where the authorities allowed developers to destroy one of the unique green zones in this city by the Black Sea.

His concerns with cross-border experiences took Mishiko to Ossetia, the disputed territory in the South Caucasus recognized by most countries as part of Georgia, yet currently occupied by Russia. His work there sought to build bridges between the local community and the land. Finding a unique house about to be demolished, a local poet wrote a poem dedicated to this old work of architecture. “I promise you… an old dream will come again” – this line from the poem was written as a mural on the house’s wall.

During his ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), the central idea of Mishiko’s research project into both environmental and sociological issues is focused on the trans-border experience and how it affects different species – people, insects and plants. Mishiko, in collaboration with his US host organization Unlisted Projects, is engaged with artistic, scientific, and gardening communities in the construction of a wall near the South Texas border with Mexico. Unlike the populist idea of isolationism, this wall’s purpose is to create a transitional oasis for the monarch butterflies, offering a regenerative habitat for their migration from Mexico to Canada. The wall-installation cradles milkweed plants, now an endangered species due to genetic modification of this poisonous yet decorative plant. The natural milkweed is the only source of nutrients for the monarch larvae. The installation goes up in late October 2021 in different locations in and around Austin.

Slovenia
Ljubljana
Music

Slovenian singer, songwriter and musician Katja Šulc works with poetry and music.  Her expression is focused on setting poetry to music and storytelling through songs. Her work embraces contemporary folk, exploring modern and traditional poetry and endangered languages and cultures. Katja’s recent album KAMLISAJLAN (2016) is based on Rromani poetry from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while her new album CARICIAS (2021) pays tribute to Mexican poetry, including traditional and indigenous poems.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Katja researches Native American culture, history, values and beliefs. She is dedicating her residency in the US to foster a deep dialogue with Native American artists and communities. Katja draws a parallel between Native American culture and Pre-Christian culture in Slovenia, the Old believers, the secret pagan society that existed in Slovenian remote places until late 1960’s. The parallel lies in a strong connection to nature and in deep respect for natural forces.

Her collaborative project with US host organization Institute of American Indian Arts is paying homage to Native American heritage. While fusing the traditional and the contemporary, the project draws from historical, philosophical, spiritual, artistic and aesthetic contexts of indigenous cultures. It intertwines with Native American artists’ culture, values and wisdom, with a focus on ecology issues and human values.

Katja’s project is focused on artistic collaborations, performance and composition, blending traditional sounds, words and vocalizations with her own musical expression, featuring contemporary and indigenous writings. The project will be released in 2022, marking the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (UNESCO, 2022 – 2032).

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Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek

Born in 1987, Malika Umarova lives and works in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She has a background in medicine and pursued postgraduate studies in pediatrics. As an artist, Malika specializes in graphics, painting, and animation and has worked in Art Group 705 since 2014 as part of artistic collective. She has participated in projects such as the children’s art project at Bilimkana school (2020-2021) and in the curatorial group of Bishkek April Fool Contest since 2017.

Malika’s curatorial projects in collaboration with Art Group 705 include: Meetings with artists 2015-2017, various Childrens’ workshops between 2016-2019, and a variety of exhibitions.

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Estonia
Tallinn
Multidisciplinary

Artist and curator Ann Mirjam Vaikla works at the intersection of art practice and arts management. With a background in the performing arts, Ann’s work includes scenography and directing. She served as the Director of the Narva Art Residency (NART), a unique cultural platform facilitating residencies, art exhibitions, talks and educational workshops in Narva on the Estonian-Russian border.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies at Triangle Arts Association and Grand Central Art Center), Ann Mirjam’s research departs from her own ancestry touching upon the notions of migration, embodiment and body as an archive. It incorporates collecting imagery from various sites (waterfronts of New York City and Jersey City and Port of Los Angeles) and meetings with artists, curators, and historians and other professionals in the field. The collected information and materials will be used for a future art project with the working title Where The Fun Never Sets.

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Egypt
Alexandria
Theater

Cultural manager, researcher, consultant and theater performer, Iman Zaki co-founded Reflection for Arts, a training and development organization in Alexandria, Egypt in 2007. The organization provides space and support for visual and performing artists and promotes the role of the arts in community development. Her work experience ranges from cultural management and facilitation to curating and producing work that investigates oppression, sexual harassment and domestic violence among many other social issues, with a focus on personal transformation and the use of theater and other art practices as tools for social change. Deeply concerned by governmental censorship, a lack of adequate funding and the rejection of contemporary methodologies in local academic art schools, Iman has recently opened a school for emerging artists.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residency), Iman conducts her research in the United States’ heart of independent theater, the legendary La MaMa Experimental Theater Club. Working closely with Artistic Director, Mia Yoo, Iman explores the unique theater scene of New York’s East Village and beyond. She has direct access to artifacts documenting the life of the theater’s founder, the beloved Ellen Stewart. She also explores La MaMa’s high-tech Culture Hub and The Gallery. As a cradle of the off-Broadway theater, La MaMa E.T.C. opens broad opportunities for Iman to expand her professional network, create new connections and develop further cultural exchanges between New York and Alexandria, Egypt.

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FUNDERS AND PARTNERS

The ArtsLink Assembly 2021 is curated and produced by CEC ArtsLink and supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, John and Jody Arnhold Foundation (honoring Amei Wallach), the Kirby Family Foundation, and generous individuals.

Podcasts and transcripts commissioned and supported by Howlround.com. Livestream produced and supported by HowlRound TV.