Azra Akšamija | Future Heritage

MIT Architecture | Spring 2021 Lecture Series

In collaboration with the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology and with the participation of Ulrike Al-Khamis, interim Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and Sean Anderson, Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA.

Our global society is facing an unprecedented epoch. Aside from the existential threats of climate change, which loom in all our lives, we have seen, in the pandemic and its mismanagement in many countries, a not very pretty picture of social, political, and economic inequalities that we can no longer ignore. Our generation is faced with an ongoing erasure of natural resources and cultural infrastructures. We are also continuously affected by the power grab of the privileged class and its strategy of division and fear. On top of the pandemic, we are also facing many chronic social ills: racism, xenophobia, and social alienation.

These challenges are putting us to an existential test; as in other periods of violence and injustice, we have to ask ourselves who we are in a peculiarly pressing way. Furthermore, we have to find strength, inspiration, and hope in a moment of in which weakness, banality, and despair seem so easy to surrender to. Art and design offer creative and critical tools to expose the brutality of the world we live in and amplify the voices of those who have been silenced.

In this lecture, Azra Aksamija will present the recent work of the MIT Future Heritage Lab, an experimental laboratory that invents creative responses to conflict and crisis at the intersection of art, culture, and preservation technologies. Facilitating transcultural exchange and collaborations across borders, the lab brings together a wide network of individuals and organizations from various places to jointly imagine utopian programs, perform ameliorative gestures, and realize transformative projects. The lab’s work rests on the belief that culture is an essential human need. The lecture will feature the recent work of the lab produced across MIT, a museums in Canada, Austria, and UAE, as well as in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

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