The conference “Cultures of Exile: Conversations on Language and the Arts” was inspired by the music of Georges Moustaki (1934--2013), especially his song “Le Métèque” (1969). In “Le Métèque” (music, lyrics) Moustaki dealt with outsiders, strangers, and all those who do not share one homogeneous place of origin. What does it mean to be a “métèque,” an exile, an outsider today? Although often associated with loss and victimhood, exile can also foster artistic freedom, creativity, renewal, and empowerment. What is the role of the new place in the development of one’s artistic oeuvre? How does the memory of original sounds, visual images, and physical places inflect one’s creative voice? Many of our New Mexico students have personal experiences of exile and relocation. Through presentations and discussions, we will examine how personal and national tales of loss and adversity, transformed through the artist’s medium, can become powerful testimonies of the human condition.
Distinguished speakers include the writers Shirley Geok-Lin Lim (from Malaysia, teaching at UC Santa Barbara), Kébir Ammi from Paris (originally from Morocco), Liana Theodoratou (from Greece, teaching at NYU), Karen Elizabeth Bishop (from the UK, teaching at Rutgers University), and historian Devin Naar, U. of Washington (with ancestors from Salonica, Greece). Speakers from UNM and the Albuquerque community include Diane Thiel, Vera John Steiner, Manuel Montoya and his panelists, Angus Fletcher and Constantine Hadjilambrinos. Commentators include Diana Rebolledo, Natasha Kolchevska, Les Field, Laura Matter and Walter Putnam.
The conference begins on Wednesday morning, October 23rd with a reading by Native American poet Luci Tapahonso and northern New Mexico poet Levi Romero, both UNM faculty. Later that day, an art exhibit opening, featuring work by UNM professor Yoshiko Shimano (originally from Japan) and others, will be followed by a lecture by Mexico City artist Silvia Gruner. Chinese artist Hung Liu, (Mills College, CA), will talk about “Summoning Ghosts” on Thursday afternoon. We will conclude on Friday, October 25th with a poetry reading by Diane Thiel and Shirley LIm.
View the conference program with particpant list and biographies here.
View photos from the conference here.