Sami Alkarim in front of one of his photos on the wall in the exhibition New Territory

Denver-Based Artist Sami Alkarim to Speak at Anderman Photography Lecture

October 4, 7-8:30 pm

Sami Alkarim is the next speaker in the Anderman Photography Lecture Series at the Denver Art Museum on October 4. In this talk he will discuss his Dream series (examples recently on view in New Territory: Landscape Photography Today) and other projects as well as share insight into the motivation behind his work. Please join us for what is sure to be an interesting and inspiring talk. Get tickets.

Sami Alkarim, Dream 23. Chromogenic color print.
Sami Alkarim, Dream 23, 2017. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy of the artist and Robischon Gallery, Denver © Sami Alkarim

Endurance of the Human Spirit

Alkarim’s story is one that demonstrates the endurance of the human spirit. His work reflects his life experience and the hopeful perspective he was able to retain despite hardship.

Alkarim grew up in Lebanon and Iraq and was interested in the arts at a young age, spending many hours in the Iraqi National Museum. He entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1985 at a point when political tensions were rising. Alkarim made a series of public art works in opposition to Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime, which criticized government actions and commented on the suffering of the people. As a result, in 1986 at the age of 20, he was taken as a political prisoner and sent to Abu Ghraib prison under a sentence of death.

After the end of the Iran-Iraq War and three difficult years of incarceration in an extremely harsh place he was released, but given the continued political instability, he had to leave Iraq. In 2001, Alkarim moved to the United States with his family and settled in Denver where he lives and works today.

Sami Alkarim, Untitled 2, from Identity Steps, 2001-2003, chromogenic color print
Sami Alkarim, Untitled 2, from Identity Steps, 2001-2003. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy XVA Gallery, Dubai © Sami Alkarim

Identity & Memory

Working in photography as well as video, painting, and sculpture, Sami Alkarim explores the complex and changing nature of identity and the human experience. He engages memory and sense of place in this process while also considering our cultural and political interactions with each other. In the notes for an exhibition of his work at Robischon Gallery he stated, “I try to capture a single moment when home and exile do not seem opposed to each other, but are parts of the single process of our existence. Through my work, I recognize the possibility that there are no true boundaries in our lives.”

While there is much that divides humanity, Alkarim’s work acknowledges that which has the power to open our minds and unite, such as the beauty of nature, love, art, and he welcomes the viewer to share in that experience. His art is often filled with a sense of hope, a belief that we have the ability to recover—a valuable reminder for all.

Sami Alkarim, Rebirth 6. Chromogenic color print.
Sami Alkarim, Rebirth 6, 2011. Chromogenic color print. Courtesy XVA Gallery, Dubai © Sami Alkarim

Kimberly Roberts is the curatorial assistant in the photography department.