14 November 2021

VCUarts Qatar Concludes Ninth Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art

University sees over 800 people from across the globe register for event

VCUarts Qatar concluded the ninth edition of the Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, recently. This year’s theme, ‘The Environment and Ecology in Islamic Art and Culture’ attracted over 1300 registrants from across the world for the online event that took place from November 8 to 15.

On the first day of the Symposium, Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar, and Carmenita Higginbotham, Dean, VCUarts, Richmond, addressed the online audience.

The Dean of VCUarts Qatar said, “For the next week, the Symposium will cover topics that demonstrate just how pragmatic previous generations were in their thoughtful incorporation of eco-conscious materials and crafting of environmentally-sensitive designs. Voices from diverse disciplines will show how current ecological disasters inform contemporary aesthetics that raise public awareness of the crisis -- the sheer range of subjects promises to spark everyone’s intellectual curiosity.”

Dean Berbić also noted how the Symposium’s virtual presence, though necessitated by the travel precautions imposed by the pandemic, ended up complementing the theme.

“While the continuing uncertainties of the pandemic have made us forgo the in-person vibrancy IAS (Islamic Art Symposium) brings to our campus here in Doha, I’m heartened that the decision has helped us reduce its carbon footprint and expand its reach. We have participants, panel organizers, paper presenters, and fellows with us, virtually, from all over the world. So, to all of you, let me finally say, ‘welcome’.  Thank you for your contributions, for supporting us on this journey, and for engaging with a topic that is as much about our present and future as it is about the past,” he said.

This edition’s Chairs were VCUarts Qatar faculty members Dr. Radha Dalal, Interim Director of Art History, Associate Professor of Islamic Art, and Jochen Sokoly, Associate Professor of Islamic Art, and Sean Roberts, Lecturer in Early Modern Art at the University of Tennessee, and Affiliated Associate Professor at VCUarts Qatar.

Since it was first held in 2004, each edition of the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art has addressed significant themes and issues in understanding the visual arts of the Islamic lands. The prestigious symposium is co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VCUarts Qatar, and QF.

Photographs by Raviv Cohen.

Farid Esmaeil, the Founding Partner of X Architects, giving his presentation on day 2 of the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, titled, “Context as a ‘Form’ Generator.”

Dr. Radha Dalal, Interim Director of Art History and Associate Professor of Islamic Art at VCUarts Qatar during the Symposium.

Dr. Jochen Sokoly, Associate Professor of Islamic Art at VCUarts Qatar.

From left: Dr. Radha Dalal, Interim Director of Art History and Associate Professor of Islamic Art at VCUarts Qatar; Dr. Marisa Brown, Symposium Manager; and Dr. Jochen Sokoly, Associate Professor of Islamic Art at VCUarts Qatar.

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