Urok Shirhan next Artist-in-Residence at NIAS

16 November 2016

Urok Shirhan will be NIAS’s next Artist-in-Residence and starts her five-month fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study on 1 February 2017.

She will work on her project Empty Orchestra – Xenophones, which deals with themes such as estrangement, identity, language and sound. Shirhan wants to explore how identities that are not based on nationality may counter the problems associated with nationalism and boundaries. Her own experiences provide a point of reference: Shirhan (1984) is Iraqi-born and moved to the Netherlands when she was nine.

Work and Study

Urok Shirhan (1984) studied fine arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and obtained a Masters degree from Goldsmiths University London. She was researcher-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academy Maastricht. Previous work includes ‘Watani Al Akbar’ (2015), Shirhan’s reinterpretation of a Pan-Arabic anthem sung by famous Arab singers in a 1960s operetta, for which Shirhan replaced all the voices with her own. In 2014 she worked with Syrian children in Jordan that speak of their experiences in war. In another work, Communist Parents (2013), Shirhan’s starting point is three millennials’ views on social engagement. The artist invited them to each interview their parents, in order to retrace the influence that these past political ideals have on their children.

Public Meetings

Shirhan will organize a number of public meetings, in which participants are invited to join the artist in exploring language, sound and performance. Details will be announced in 2017.

NIAS and Society of Arts – KNAW

The artist-in-residence fellowship is set up by NIAS and the Society of Arts to stimulate the exchange between arts and sciences. Both institutes are part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Past fellowships have been awarded to photographer Jan Rosseel and artist Arne Hendriks.