Amal Khalaf is the Assistant Curator of the Serpentine Gallery’s Edgeware Road Project, an international residency and site-specific research programme based in the Edgeware Road neighbourhood of London. Situated at the itinerant Centre for Possible Studies, the project links artists with local people and issues. Khalaf holds an MA in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her curatorial and research activities address themes of urbanism, community media activism and art through participatory projects and media initiatives. In her work as a researcher and curator, she has been involved in collaborative programming with artists and community groups in London and Cairo, in addition to running activities ranging from screenings, performances, seminar series and conferences. Previously, she worked at Gasworks, London, the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and Al Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain, as well as co-founding Hold and Freight, London, a project space based in an abandoned Victorian railway arch. Khalaf is also a Research Associate with the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, co-authoring a book on moving image in public space.
Born and raised in Benghazi, Libya, poet Khaled Mattawa relocated to the United States as a teenager in 1979. He received an undergraduate degree in political science and economics from the University of Tennessee; an MA and an MFA from Indiana University, where he also won an award from the Academy of American Poets; and a PhD from Duke University.
Influenced by Milan Kundera and Federico García Lorca, as well as the Arab poets whose work he translates, Mattawa’s poetry frequently explores the intersection of culture, narrative, and memory. In a 2007 Blackbird interview, addressing the connection between his emigration from Libya to the United States and his poetry, Mattawa observed, “I think memory was very important to my work as a structure, that the tone of remembrance, or the position of remembering, is very important, was a way of speaking when I was in between deciding to stay and not stay, and I had decided to stay.”
Award-winning Syrian-American composer and pianist, Malek Handali, is recognized as a leading figure in today’s piano world. His outstanding recordings and extensive concert tours receive abundantly glowing praise. His musical career as a concert pianist began in 1988 after winning the first prize at the National Young Artists’ competition followed by the 1997 “Outstanding Musical Performer Award” in the United States.
Malek currently resides in New York City and is a member of The Recording Academy and The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). His music is published by Soul b Music and can be found on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and at Virgin Megastores worldwide.
Working mainly with photography and video, Halil Altindere explores political, social and cultural codes and constraints often by manipulating or reconstructing the means and materials of official representation.
Altindere has been a central figure in the Turkish contemporary art world for many years. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Tanas, Berlin (2010), the Center Georges Pompidou, Paris (2008), the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, USA (2008), the Petach-Tikva Museum, Israel (2008), Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2007), October Salon, Belgrade, Serbia (2006), the Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2005, 1997), Manifesta, Frankfurt (2002) and the Kwangju Biennial, Korea (2002). Halil Altındere was born in 1971 in Mardin, Turkey and lives and works in Istanbul.
Mia Gröndahl is a Swedish journalist based in Cairo. Her most recent book is “Revolution Graffiti: Street Art of the New Egypt.” Gröndahl has followed and documented the constantly and rapidly changing graffiti art of the new Egypt from its beginnings, and her images celebrate the imagination, the skill, the humor, and the political will of the young artists and activists who have claimed the walls of Cairo and other Egyptian cities as their canvas.
She is the photographer of In Hope and Despair: Life in the Palestinian Refugee Camps (AUC Press, 2003), Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics (AUC Press, 2009), Tahrir Square: The heart of the Egyptian Revolution (AUC Press, 2011), and Revolution Graffiti: Street Art of the New Egypt (AUC Press, forthcoming).
Founded by collectors and cousins Khaled and Hisham Samawi in Damascus in 2006, Ayyam Gallery successfully revived interest in Syria’s art history whilst at the same time nurturing the country’s burgeoning and dynamic contemporary art scene. Landmark non-profit initiatives such as the Shabab Ayyam Project, an incubator for emerging artists, demonstrated Ayyam Gallery’s commitment to bringing the new wave of Syrian artists to international attention. Ayyam Gallery Damascus currently functions as a studio and creative haven for artists who remain in the war-torn city.