Azra Aksamija is a Sarajevo born artist and architectural historian, currently Assistant Professor in MIT’s Art, Culture and Technology Program. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from the Technical University Graz, Austria (Dipl.Ing. in 2001) and Princeton University (M.Arch. in 2004), and received her Ph.D. from MIT (History Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture / Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture) in 2011.
In her interdisciplinary practice, Azra investigates the potency of art and architecture to facilitate the process of transformative mediation in cultural or political conflicts, and in so doing, provide a framework for researching, analyzing, and intervening in contested socio-political realities. Azra’s academic research highlights the significance of ethnic symbols, long-term cultural factors, and global cultural flows in the creation of contemporary nations. In her Ph.D. dissertation, Azra examined how Bosnian Muslims construct their identity through the lens of rebuilt or newly built mosques following the systematic destruction of religious architecture during the 1992-1995 War. Her research has been supported by the Krupp Foundation Fellowship received from the Center for European Studies, Harvard University (2008-09) and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, awarded by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (2009-10).
Azra's academic inquiry informs her ongoing artistic explorations about Islam in the West and the conflicts over the visibility and presence of Muslims in America and Western Europe. Her recent projects focused on erasure and reinvention of cultural memory, and the interaction between cultures through art and architecture. Azra’s artwork takes shape though different types of media, including clothing, video, performance, sculpture and / or new media. Among her preceding curatorial projects was the “Lost Highway Expedition” (2006) that Azra co-organized with nine international artists and architects during her tenure as a Graduate Affiliate at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT. Her recent curatorial work includes the exhibition "Interior View SOUTHEAST: Investigations of Backyard Mosques", on view in the summer/fall 2012 at the Architecture Forum Upper-Austria, Linz (AT), brought together MIT students and faculty to collaborate on new experimental forms of representations of Islam in the West.
Azra's interdisciplinary projects have been exhibited in leading international venues. Her work was awarded Honorable Mention at the Sixth Graz Biennial on Media and Architecture in 2003. Prominent institutions or festivals that exhibited her work include the Generali Foundation Vienna (2002), the Valencia Biennial (2003), Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig (2003), the Liverpool Biennial (2004), the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb (2005), the Sculpture Center New York (2006), the Secession Vienna (2007), Manifesta 7 (2008), the Stroom The Hague (2009), and the Royal Academy of Arts London (2010), and Jewish Museum Berlin (2011), and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice.