UK MUSLIM GRAFFITI ARTIST PAINTS AT THE VATICAN
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’.
For more information on the event visit the website: http://www.tedxviadellaconciliazione.com