Cultures in Contact is a public program between artists Dahlia Elsayed and Andrew Demirjian and historians Emily Neumeier and Joshua Michael White about the rich history of social spaces and methods of transcultural exchange.

A rest stop for the future based on the past, Which Yesterday Is Tomorrow?, by artists Dahlia Elsayed and Andrew Demirjian, presents an alternate world intended to reconnect people with the senses, rituals, and mythologies that have been diminished in an age dominated by relentless commerce and time scarcity. This multi-sensory installation reimagines the Silk Road caravanserai as a potential site for the exchange of ideas and culture.

By drawing upon the vocabulary of social and sacred architecture from Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA), Elsayed and Demirjian – both diasporic artists from this region – create a space for engagement, pause, and reflection. Transformer’s interior is completely reimagined – the walls, floors, and ceilings are embellished with vibrant textiles, rugs, and furnishings; a spatialized soundtrack composed of deconstructed folk instruments, and fragrant mists and Turkish coffee envelops the air. In a region that once thrived on the cosmopolitan and mutual interchange of ideas, Which Yesterday Is Tomorrow? , conjures a fictive location where aesthetics and ideologies are exchanged freely, establishing an alternative to the historical narrative of colonization, crisis, and territoriality portrayed in Western media.

Dahlia Elsayed is an artist and writer who makes text and image-based work that synthesizes an internal and external experience of place, connecting the ephemeral to the concrete. She writes short fictions for created landscapes that take the form of narrative paintings, print and installation. Her work is in the public collections of the Newark Museum, the Zimmerli Museum, Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the US Department of State, amongst others. Dahlia received her MFA from Columbia University, and lives and works in New Jersey. She is a Professor of Humanities at CUNY LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, New York.

Andrew Demirjian is an interdisciplinary artist who works with remix, rhythm and ritual. He creates environments for critical reflection through scraping and recombining popular culture, making intricate collages of sound and language. His work is often presented in non-traditional exhibition spaces and takes the form of interactive installations, generative art, multi-channel videos and live performances. He is currently a Fellow at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, where he is working on a computational text analysis project for linguistic remixing of vast quantities of video files. Andrew teaches theory and production courses in emerging media in the Film and Media Department and the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College in New York City.

Emily Neumeier is an Assistant Professor of Islamic art at Temple University.

Joshua Michael White is an Associate Professor at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design.

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