TEDx in the Vatican Rome
Aerasol Arabic | Mohammed Ali | Soul City Arts

Mohammed Ali at the First TEDx in the Vatican State

22nd April 2013 – For Immediate Release

Award-winning Birmingham street-artist Mohammed Ali joined a Kuwaiti princess, a Jesuit astronomer, a former NBA star and the Cuban-American singing sensation Gloria Estefan to take part in the first ever TEDx event at the Vatican.

The conference, which took place on 19th April 2013, focused on the theme of “Religious Freedom Today” and is part the new Pope Francis’ mission for religious understanding.  The event enabled  a number of international speakers an 18 minute ‘inspiring talk’ to a packed auditorium of around 1000 people, just minutes away from St Peters Basilica.  The event was streamed live to almost a million viewers around the globe.

Mohammed Ali is an artist who has a reputation for huge, thought-provoking urban art installations in cities across the globe. The main aim of his art is to connect people of different faiths. Mohammed was the only British presenter invited to the event and he began his talk by speaking about how humanity began by using art to communicate ideas and messages to the world everywhere from the spray painted subways of New York City to the frescoed underground catacombs in Rome.

Ali said, ‘Art gives people the opportunity to share new ways of connecting and communicating’.

Following a short speech, Ali painted a live mural on the stage with the flourish and flair of a musical conductor. He sprayed aerosol paint, swept brush strokes and slapped a paint-soaked board against a dark gray makeshift wall turning it into a piece of art. The words “freedom” in English and Arabic appeared before a city of basilicas and minarets under a rose-colored sky.

Already a global phenomenon lauded for its commitment to “ideas worth spreading,” TED.com’s online talks are gaining attention in Italy and other European countries through similarly locally organized “TEDx” events.  The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture had embraced the initiative coming from a group of academics in Rome, perhaps a symbolic gesture from the new pontiff that he wants a Vatican that is far more open and inclusive to the wider, non-Catholic world.

One of the organizers of TEDxViadellaConciliazione, Giovanna Abbiati, explains how the speakers were selected:

“At the beginning, we really scoured the earth,” she says, looking for the right people to address the conference: “from Mexico to China, from Nigeria to Serbia…(looking) for people who have real stories to tell about religious freedom.”

Mohammad Ali said, ‘It was an absolute honour to attend this first TEDx event in the Vatican State and hope that my live mural evoked a sense of religious freedom via art’.

Notes To Editors

About Mohammed Ali

Mohammed Ali is an award-winning Birmingham-based street artist who’s work has been celebrated as ‘building bridges between faith communities’. His work has graced walls from as far afield as Melbourne, New York, Dubai, Singapore and Casablanca and he is an Arts Council Awardee. Mohammed dubs his work, ‘Urban Spiritual Art’ and his graffiti style artwork evoke messages of social concern and community upliftment. More of his work can be seen atwww.aerosolarabic.com

About TEDx at the Vatican (TEDx ViaDella Conilliazione)

On the 19th of April, 2013, an international event will took place in Rome. This high-profile event will took place in the Auditorium Conciliazione in the territory of the Vatican State. Freedom of religion today, across a wide range of fields, art, music, sport, science, culture, and the web

TEDxViadellaConcilizione and will host speakers from around the world to tell, in the style of TED, their stories that are worth spreading, also to be available to the whole global audience on the web.

Not many people in Italy are aware of TED, but in the United States, TED is a platform to share brilliant ideas. TED is visited on the web by one million people every day.

For more information on the event visit the website: http://www.tedxviadellaconciliazione.com

Contact Haroon Ravat of Soul City Arts on haroon@soulcityarts.com or call 07946 488 413

BBC Midlands Today news clip on the performance at the Vatican:

Article featured in the Guardian:

A radio feature on BBC Radio London