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Katia Kameli, Artist
Omar Berrada, Independent Scholar
Finbarr Barry Flood, Silsila/NYU

Wednesday, January 27th, 12:30pm ET

[Online] Silsila Spring 2021 Lecture Series, Translations

Still from The Storyteller, 2012, HD Video, 12”. © Katia Kameli, ADAGP

The practice of translation is central to the work of Katia Kameli, a Franco-Algerian artist and director. In this event, the artist will present several of her recent works, which explore entangled histories and practices of translation between cultures and temporalities across textual, verbal and visual media. In The Storyteller (2012), a story teller from the Djemaa al-Fna, the great plaza of Marrakech, narrates a tragic rollercoaster tale of loss, misfortune and friendship according to the conventions of traditional Arab storytelling. Spellbound by the power of his oration, we come to realize that the charismatic raconteur is in fact narrating the 1964 Hindi film Dosti (Friendship). Inhabiting the space between visual and verbal story-telling, the experience of the viewer/listener oscillates between the enchantment of modern technologies of entertainment and forms of narration that long preceded and still inhabit them. 

Excerpts from the second of Kameli’s work to be shown, Stream of Stories Chapters 5 & 6 (2018-2019) engage the transmission and translation of Indian tales to the west long before the era of the moving image. Stream of Stories concerns the animal fables known in Sanskrit as the Panchatantra and in Arabic as Kalila wa Dimna, tales of entertainment and moral edification. Transmitted to Iran in the pre-Islamic period, the tales enjoyed enormous success, translated into most languages, and provided the basis for the animal tales of the seventeenth-century French author La Fontaine. Stream of Stories explores the various appropriations and displacements through which the tales traveled and were transformed, including the many copies of the manuscripts containing them and the visual mediations performed by their illustrations. In Kameli’s work, the multiple engagements with practices of transmission and transmutation that are both dependent upon and transcend language parse different facets of an age-old question: the nature of translation itself.

The presentation of Katia Kameli’s work will be accompanied by a discussion between the artist, Omar Berrada, a translator and art critic, and Finbarr Barry Flood, an art historian. 

Katia Kameli is a French-Algerian artist. Kameli’s work is closely linked to her personal experience of dual identities, exploring multiplicity and the ‘in-between’. Through video, photography, installation, she investigates intercultural spaces, intersecting identities and their construction. Thus, she positions herself as a hybrid, using a ‘third space’ that enables the emergence of other visions, forms and positions. This ‘third space’ questions historical accounts and can generate a critical stance that allows for the rewriting of hegemonic narratives. Her most recent solo-exhibitions include: The Algerian Novel, Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar (2020); She Rekindled the vividness of the past, Kunsthalle Münster, Münster (2019); Ya Rayi, Centre d’art La Passerelle, Brest (2018); À l’ombre de l’étoile et du croissant, CRP/ Centre régional de la photographie des Hauts de France (2018); What Language Do You Speak Stranger, The Mosaic Rooms, London (2016). 

Kameli has participated in numerous groups shows that include: Global(e) Resistance, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020) ; A toi appartient le regard (...), Quai Branly, Paris (2020); Un instant avant le monde, Biennale de Rabat (2018); Made in Algeria, Mucem, Marseille (2016); Entry Prohibited to Foreigners, Havre Magasinet, Boden, Sweden (2015); Lubumbashi Biennale, Congo (2013); Dak’art, Dakar Biennale (2012; 2018); Higher Atlas, Marrakech Biennale (2012); Bamako Biennale, Mali (2011). In 2006 and 2011, Kameli directed and produced ‘Bledi in Progress’ and ‘Trans-Maghreb’ video platforms for young filmmakers from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in Algiers. In spring 2021 Kameli will have a solo exhibition entitled Elle a allumé le vif du passé at the Fonds régional d'art contemporain PACA in Marseille. 

Omar Berrada is a writer, translator, and curator whose work focuses on the politics of translation and intergenerational transmission. He is the author of Clonal Hum, a book of poems on “invasive species” (2020), and the editor or co-editor of several books, including Album – Cinémathèque de Tanger, a multilingual volume about film in Tangier and Tangier on film (2012), and La Septième Porte, Ahmed Bouanani’s posthumous history of Moroccan cinema (2020). His writing was published in numerous exhibition catalogs, magazines and anthologies, including Frieze, Bidoun, Asymptote, and The University of California Book of North African Literature. Currently living in New York, he teaches at The Cooper Union where he co-organizes the IDS Lecture Series.

Finbarr Barry Flood is director of Silsila: Center for Material Histories and William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the Humanities at the Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History, New York University. He teaches and publishes on intercultural dimensions of Islamic art, image theory, devotional art, technologies of representation, modernity and Orientalism. Publications include Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval “Hindu-Muslim” Encounter (2009) and Technologies de dévotion dans les arts de l’islam: pèlerins, reliques, copies (2019). He is currently completing a book project, provisionally entitled Islam and Image: Contested Histories, which formed the basis of the 2019 Slade Lectures at the University of Oxford.

Co-sponsored by NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, South Asia NYU & the New York Center for Global Asia.

Date: Wednesday, January 27th
Time: 12:30-2:30pm
Location: Online

This event will take place as a live Webinar at 12:30pm ET (New York time). To register as an attendee, please use the following link:
Only registered attendees will be able to access this event.

Silsila: Center for Material Histories is an NYU center dedicated to material histories of the Islamicate world. Each semester we hold a thematic series of lectures and workshops, which are open to the public. Details of the Center can be found at: