2011 DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts

This weekend, the Arab American National Museum is hosting its fourth installation of DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts. We’re excited to be taking this biennial arts convening out of Michigan for the first time. This year we’re partnering with Alwan for the Arts, the Middle East and Middle East American Center (MEMEAC) at the City University of New York, and FEN Magazine to host the event in New York City. Similar to years past, there is a great roster of speakers presenting on timely and important subjects.

DIWAN unites Arab American artists, scholars and performers representing myriad academic fields and artistic genres. The conference affords a safe space to discuss topics and issues affecting the community of artists while also fostering an open environment conducive to networking and community building. Most importantly, the presentations shed light on what’s new in the world of Arab American art while creating a greater awareness for the artists and their artwork.

I’ve been involved with DIWAN since it’s inception. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of moderating a panel at all four conferences. This year I will be moderating the session, The Stories We Tell: Arab Americans convey their truth through emerging mediums of installation art, film and the graphic novel. I’m looking forward to working with a great group of presenters and I expect nothing less than another inspiring and informative conference.

It’s really quite amazing how big we’ve grown this grassroots conference in five short years. Working on this project is definitely one of the highlights of my job at the AANM. If you’re in New York this weekend (March 25-26), be sure to stop by the CUNY Graduate Center, which is where the conference will be taking place. Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention it’s FREE. Yes, we are all about being open and accessible to the public.

Also, be sure to check out the schedule and peep some photos from the 2007 and 2009 conferences. We’ve also published the audio and video of sessions from the 2009 conference on our iTunes U site. Hope to see you there this weekend!

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i.Phoneography International Photography Exhibition

It’s time for another iPhoneography exhibition! This one is called i.Phoneography and it’s Italy’s first juried exhibition of iPhone photography. Here are the details on the i.Phoneography International Photography Exhibition:

Do you still believe that the camera makes the photographer? i.Phoneography believes in the creative power of the gaze, in a new way to describe contemporaneity. Organized by Arteaparte, iPhoneography is the first Italian contest of photographs taken and edited with an iPhone. This is a language for images that becomes an art laboratory, and that involves a growing number of iPhoneographers from all around the world.

The rules:

  1. The contest is cost-free for contributors, but participation is restricted to iPhone’s taken and edited photographs.
  2. Each participant can send a maximum of six images through the submission form.
  3. Maximum size accepted 1536 x 2048 px.
  4. All material must be submitted online by 30 August 2010.

Here are my entries into this juried exhibition:
Cruisin'
Radcliffe Camera

Rose

Tulips

Yesterday

Ypsi Arbor

Here’s a link to my gallery at iPhonepgraphy.com.
i.Phoneography

You can find more of my iPhoneography on Flickr.

Devon Akmon

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The EYE’EM Award

It appears there are more and more exhibits and competitions for mobile phone photography. I’m glad to see the medium grow. Recently, I submitted five images to the EYE’EM Award, “an international competition dedicated to the rise of mobile photography as a new artform.” Here are the four most important rules for the competition (see the complete rules & requirements):

  1. Images must be taken with a mobile phone camera
  2. Participants may enter up to five pictures free of charge
  3. Both mobile as well as desktop applications are permitted for retouching images (I’m not too keen on allowing desktop editing)
  4. The deadline to enter is April 25, 2010

The winning images will be exhibited in Berlin and the finalists will be featured in an exhibit book.

Here’s a link to the images I submitted to the contest.

EYE'EM Submission by Devon Akmon
EYE'EM Submission by Devon Akmon
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The Implosion of J.L. Hudson’s Flagship Store in Detroit

At 5:47 PM on October 24, 1998, the iconic J.L. Hudson’s flagship department store in downtown Detroit was imploded. As I recall, there was much controversy surrounding former Mayor Dennis Archer’s decision to bring down this _______ (eyesore; historically significant structure; reminder of better days in a tired city; etc.). Sadly, to this day, nothing has been built upon this massive footprint in the city. Almost twelve years have passed and I can’t help but wonder what could have happened had that magnificent building been restored, rehabilitated and/or adaptively reused.

As a young art student with a love for the city – most of my creative work focused on Detroit – I made a point of attending the destruction of this icon. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the smartest move I’ve made in my life. Who knows what I inhaled in the plume that engulfed the city following the implosion that day (I’m sure I lost a couple years of my life). I remember feeling both exhilarated and depressed, simultaneously. I documented the destruction I saw with my 35mm SLR camera. My goal was to eventually do something with the series of images.

Originally, I planned to print a series of nine images showing the collapse of the structure. However, after further thought this didn’t seem appropriate. Later, I thought about screenprinting the series on Hudson’s store bags. The name of the series was to be 13 Hour Sale! (yeah, it’s satire for those familiar with Hudson’s). In the end, my ambivalence and personal confusion over the building prohibited me from finishing the series.

Today, I’m snowed in and feeling a bit nostalgic. I recently located some scans of the images on an old Zip disk (yes, the quality of the scans is poor). I thought I’d share them here with you today. Only a handful of friends and family have ever seen these images. If you have recollections of the building or old Detroit, please do share your thoughts in the comment section below (or email me if you prefer to be private).

Hudson's Implosion 01
Hudson's Implosion 01
Hudson's Implosion 02
Hudson's Implosion 02
Hudson's Implosion 03
Hudson's Implosion 03
Hudson's Implosion 04
Hudson's Implosion 04
Hudson's Implosion 05
Hudson's Implosion 05
Hudson's Implosion 06
Hudson's Implosion 06
Hudson's Implosion 07
Hudson's Implosion 07
Hudson's Implosion 08
Hudson's Implosion 08
Hudson's Implosion 09
Hudson's Implosion 09

Other resources:

– Devon Akmon

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