Keynote Speakers and Program 2014

Keynote Speakers at the 2014 AiT

Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts from where she received her BA, and at the Finnish Academy of the Arts in Helsinki. She has been active both as an artist, and in various other capacities and roles surrounding art practice. In her works she contemplates the traces of time, often working with things that have lost their purpose or things that only came to this world as a byproduct of other things, forcing the viewer to contemplate their own existence.

Bjarki Bragason studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Universität der Künste Berlin and received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, in 2010. In his work, he is concerned with questions of time. In recent projects he has investigated its appearance in architecture, and how ideology and conflicting histories proliferate in built spaces. Through conflating narratives of fictional and living characters, Bjarki’s work looks at identity, and how political paradigms appear in the daily life of an individual, through direct conversation, archeological excavations and research digs.

Claudia Hausfeld studied photography at the Zürich University of the Arts, Switzerland and received her BFA from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2012. She has been an active member in several artist run exhibition spaces in Switzerland and Denmark and is a founding member of Kunstschlager in Reykjavík. Claudia focuses on photography as a tool to illustrate and simultaneously deconstruct reality. She uses a variety of mediums to raise questions about the representation of images, the value of objects, memory and the loss of it and our understanding of what we see.

Emeritus Professor Roger Allen served as Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania for 43 years, chairing the department from 2005-2011. From 2009-2010, he was president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA).

Matthew Rubery is a Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of The Novelty of Newspaper: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News (2009), editor of Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies (2011), and co-editor of Secret Commissions: An Anthology of Victorian Investigative Journalism (2012). He is now completing a full-length study of audiobooks entitled “The Untold Story of the Talking Book.”

David Spurr teaches 19th and 20th century English literature, literary theory, and comparative literature. He is perhaps best known for his book The Rhetoric of  Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (1993), while his most recent work, Architecture and Modern Literature (2012), is highly relevant for Art in Translation concerns and forms the basis for his lecture at this year’s conference.

Amy Tan was born in the U.S. to immigrant parents from China. She rejected her mother’s plans for her to become a doctor or a concert pianist and chose to write fiction instead. She is the author of many celebrated books, includng The Joy Luck Club (which was made into a major movie in 1993), The Kitchen God’s Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses. Her most recent novel, The Valley of Amazement appeared last year. Her work has been translated into 35 languages, including Spanish, French, and Finnish to Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew and Icelandic.