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Inside Ithra's Monumental Islamic Art Conference

Images courtesy of Ithra

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is hosted “The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function,” a conference exploring how the unique history of mosques can be understood through their art.

Ithra has collaborated with the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture the three-day event from November 23-25. The conference touched on the historical meaning, culture, evolution and functions of the mosque.

“The history of mosques is uniquely diverse, especially when viewed through the lens of art and architecture,” said Abdullah K. Al-Rashid, Director of Ithra. “It reflects our identity and culture, and deserves to be studied, preserved and presented for posterity.

“The mosque is ubiquitous to Arabia, but these buildings are much more than mere spaces. Places of worship, they play a significant role in Islamic communities today but they served an even wider purpose historically, forming the social and cultural heart of society. Through the conference ‘The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function,’ we aim to share knowledge and broaden people’s understanding of the mosque’s historical meaning, evolution and function. The complementing exhibition “Shatr AlMasjid: The Art of Orientation” further reinforces this ideal.”

Presented in conjunction with Ithra’s “Shatr AlMasjid: The Art of Orientation” exhibition, the conference brought together architects, designers, archaeologists, artists, writers, historians and curators. They explored innovative approaches towards the study of mosques through the presentation of original research and insight about mosque-related cultural objects as well as the display of a range of items, from architectural ornament such as calligraphy and arabesque tiles to mosque furniture including lamps, prayer rugs and Qur’an stands.

Dr. Mashary Al Naim Secretary General of Abdulatif Alfozan Award for Mosque Architecture has stated that “The joint organized conference between AlFozan and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) comes within the framework of the award’s objectives in developing mosque architecture.” Dr, Al Naim also added that “the Award possess an international database for mosque architecture data, as well as a global professional network for all architects, researchers and professionals working in mosque architecture.”

“The Mosque: Innovation in Object, Form and Function” featured over 25 international, local, and regional experts, including Robert Hillenbrand, professor emeritus of Islamic Architecture, University of Edinburgh Yannick Lintz, director of Islamic arts at the Louvre Museum Paris; architect and historian Sami Angawi, founder and director of the Hajj Research Center in Saudi Arabia; Mounia Chekhab Abudaya, curator of Islamic art at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art; and Mohamed Abdel Salam, deputy director and senior textiles curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo. The conference papers and recordings will be published by leading academic publisher Routledge, and will be available online on Ithra’s website

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