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Tania El Khoury

Cultural Exchange Rate - A Case Study

People with their heads in silver lockders

Thursday, January 26, 2023
5:30 pm


In-person Event

Michigan Theater
603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Penny Stamps Speaker Series
Open to the public
Free of charge
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Lebanese artist Tania El Khoury examines the universal, never-ending story of migration through a family diary of the borders, and the recognition that the cruelest of borders are invisible to the eye and present in everyday life.

Cultural Exchange Rate is an interactive live art project in which El Khoury shares her family memoirs of life in border villages between Lebanon and Syria. El Khoury collects recorded interviews with her late grandmother, the discovery of lost relatives in México City, and the family’s attempt to secure dual citizenship through war survival, valueless currency collection, and a river that disregards both colonial and national borders. The audience is invited to immerse their heads into one family’s secret boxes to explore sounds, images, and textures that trace more than a century of border crossings.

Tania El Khoury is a live artist whose work focuses on audience interactivity and its political potential. She creates installations and performances in which the audience is a witness and an active collaborator. Tania’s work has been translated to multiple languages and shown in 32 countries across 6 continents in spaces ranging from museums to cable cars. She is the recipient of a Soros Art Fellowship, the Bessies Outstanding Production Award, the International Live Art Prize, the Total Theatre Innovation Award, and the Arches Brick Award.

El Khoury is the director of the OSUN Center for Human Rights & the Arts at Bard College in New York. She holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is associated with Forest Fringe collective of artists in the UK and is a co-founder of Dictaphone Group in Lebanon, a research and live art collective aiming at questioning our relationship to the city and its public spaces. Tania El Khoury’s previous work, As Far As My Fingertips Take Me was part of No Safety Net 2.0 in early 2020.

This event will be an interview conducted by Tom Sellar, a writer, editor, dramaturg and curator, editor of Yale’s international journal Theater, and professor in the Practice of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale. Sellar’s arts writing and criticism has appeared in national publications including Artforum, BOMB, the New York Times, the Guardian, 4Columns, TheatreForum, and American Theatre. He has served as dramaturg for more than 25 productions at theaters including the Joseph Papp Public Theater/​New York Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage (Baltimore), PS 122, Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale School of Drama, and the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, among others. Sellar co-edited Where No Wall Remains,” a special edition of Theater on borders and performance, with Tania El Khoury in 2021.

Presented in partnership with the University Musical Society. Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.


Content Notice

In accordance with the University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guidelines on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression, the Penny Stamps Speaker Series does not censor our speakers or their content. The content provided is intended for adult audiences and does not reflect the views of the University of Michigan or Detroit Public Television.