About The Word EmPress

Welcome to my blog, The Word EmPress

Here you will find words about all things art and culture, by me, The Word EmPress. The great 12th century poet, Rumi often described words as getting in the way of the heart; in the way of spirit language. Fast forward to the 21st century we can reflect on the thoughts presented in Susan Sontag’s seminal paper Against Interpretation, where the notion of interpreting culture in any of its forms is vehemently opposed. Sontag described such interpretation as “the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world – in order to set up a shadow world of meanings.” Sontag hearkens us back to the ideal that “in place of a hermeneutic we need an erotics of art”and speaks passionately of art in its “sensual capacity.”

So why write about art and culture? Why disrupt the sensual capacity of being, of presence, of experiencing art and of participating in cultural life as a living, evolving entity, with the potential impoverishment of words? One can always sense the disparate discomfort and agitation of humankind at any given point in history; that ever present desire for a revolution or a renaissance of culture and ideas. One can always also sense that all things revolutionary starts with the mind, the imaginings, the thoughts and the philosophies of a person, a people, a community, society or nation. At the intersection; between space and time, that which crosses over into the realm of the mundane, the social, the political and the joyous tragedy of being …it is known that words which drive or sow ideas, that allow contemplation are indeed one of the great artforms in fermenting the imaginings of people. Words are the vessel through which the transmission and evolution of culture can come into play. Art, words, culture. By the EmPress. Enjoy.


About TheWordEmpress

Nur Shkembi is a Melbourne based curator, writer and scholar. Nur has produced and curated over 150 events, exhibitions and community engagement projects, including You Am I, the first nationwide annual exhibition of contemporary Australian Muslim artists. She has been part of the team establishing the Islamic Museum of Australia since 2010, and until recently served as the museum’s Art Director, Exhibitions Manager and foundation Curator. Much of her interest has been in the development of community awareness in relation to the arts with a focus on the presence of Australian Muslim artists in the dominant discourse. As a museum curator, Nur brought together artefacts, traditional art and contemporary art as a means for collective storytelling, subverting stereotypes and as a provision for the individual narrative. She has served on numerous boards and committees and is a member of the Museums, Cultural Heritage and Cultural Development Advisory committee and the VicArts Visual Arts Advisory panel and Chair of Theatre funding at Creative Victoria. Nur is an editorial assistant for the peer reviewed material conservation journal AICCM Bulletin and an Academic Teacher and Lecturer for the Masters of Curatorship course at the University of Melbourne. She is a published author, with her debut novel Rookie distributed nationwide for the Australian high school curriculum by Cengage. Her writing is also featured in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Gallery magazine and the international arts magazine ReOrient. Nur is also a member of Eleven; a collective of eleven contemporary Muslim Australian artists, curators and writers led by internationally acclaimed artist Khaled Sabsabi. The collective includes the artists Abdul Abdullah (four times Archibald Prize finalist), Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Khadim Ali, Walkely Award winning artist Safdar Ahmed, Abdullah M.I. Syed, Idil Abdullahi, Rusaila Bazmalit, Hoda Afshar, Shireen Taweel, Zeina Iaali and the writer and producer, Eugenia Flynn, who is currently one of the nation’s top 10 ‘deadly’ bloggers. Eleven: https://eleven-collective.com/ Nur holds a Masters (First Class Honours) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA & MCM) and is currently a PhD candidate – Doctor of Philosophy – Art, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne and is undertaking interdisciplinary research in material conservation, curatorship and the work of contemporary Muslim artists within the current socio-political climate. Nur is also investigating object agency theory and the contemporary manuscript as an object that disrupts history; employing the de-colonial linking and epistemic disobedience of Walter Mignolo, post-colonialism and the theories of Foucault and Said.
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