Public Programming Collaborations

Not since 2013’s Bourgeois Leftovers at De Appel Art Centre in Amsterdam have I had the opportunity to work on a public program that incorporates as many institutional collaborations as 2019’s Occupational Hazards at apexart in NYC. The former co-curated exhibition featured events at the Stedelijk Museum, the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and San Serriffe art book shop in Amsterdam, as well as the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

Occupational Hazards presented a beautiful chance to work with ArteEast, specifically executive director Beth Stryker and independent curator Yomna Osman. The second collaboration was with PEN America’s project Artists at Risk Connection, specifically Julie Trébault, the director of ARC, and novelist Ahmed Naji.

Special thanks to Abbie Hebein, the director of fellowships and public programs at apexart.

A Guided Tour by Artists in their Absence
July 11, 2019 at apexart in NYC

apexart teams up with ArteEast for a guided tour of the exhibition Occupational Hazards called A Guided Tour by Artists in their Absence. ArteEast is the leading New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to engaging a growing global audience with the contemporary arts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Occupational Hazards artists have added their voices to the gallery space. While their works are here, for many of the artists, travel to the United States is severely challenged or prohibited–whether by cost, visa regulations, or current travel bans. Join apexart and Beth Stryker, Executive Director of ArteEast, on a guided tour of Occupational Hazards that incorporates the stories behind the works and experiences of artists working in the Middle East today, in their own words. Audio tours contributions by: William Andersen (United States/Kuwait), Mohamed Ben Soltane (Tunisia), Aissa Deebi (Palestine/Switzerland), Ahmad Hammoud (Egypt), Shuruq Harb (Jordan), Huda Lutfi (Egypt), Alexandra Stock (Switzerland/USA/Egypt), and Negar Tahsili (Iran).

Special thanks to Yomna Osman!

Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in Prison
July 25, 2019 at apexart in NYC

In this public lecture on the occasion of the exhibition Occupational Hazards, Egyptian novelist and 2016 winner of the PEN/Barbey Freedom To Write Award Ahmed Naji shares excerpts from his forthcoming book, which also includes illustrations by exhibiting artist Yassin Mohamed. This talk takes place with the support of and in collaboration with Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a project of PEN America.

> Read a transcript of the talk here.

How do prisoners kill time in prison? Why do kids become fanatic terrorists in Egyptian jails? What books can and can’t you read in prison? How do you hide your written novel inside one’s body? Don’t you agree that Dostoevsky is a funny writer? What is the difference between books that the British embassy gives its people and books the American embassy gives… All of this and more questions about reading and writing in prison. (You may or may not find answers in this event.)

Ahmed Naji, writer and official criminal, worked for years as a journalist. He published his first novel, Rogers, in 2007 and his second, Using Life, in 2014. In 2016, Naji was sentenced for two years for obscenity and disturbing public morality in Egypt after a chapter from his novel was published in a weekly literature magazine. Currently, he is a fellow in BMI at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where he lives with his family.