April 10-15, 2018
University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts

Current Conversations

Representing the Unadmitted

Now it’s time to talk. Join us for daily conversations with festival artists at the MATCH Gallery. Artist Carrie Schneider pairs the artists of CounterCurrent17 with experts from wide ranging disciplines at the University of Houston to discuss how their respective practices are reflected in the themes of the 2017 festival.

Date / Time / Site(s)
About The Project

Discussion / 60 Minutes

Representing the Unadmitted
How to platform the buried


Tania El Khoury
Festival Artist (Dictaphone Group), Stories of Refuge
Tania El Khoury creates interactive installations and performances in which the audience is an active collaborator. Her practice-based research explores performative politics in urban space, with a particular focus on the Arab uprisings, exploring how we might now perceive “political performance,” and engaging theories and practices of oral history, interactivity, mourning, and feminist critique. Her research maps the work of contemporary political artists in the Arab world as well as the creative tools used by non-artists for political change. For Stories of Refuge, three Syrian refugees were given a camera for a day, their only instructions being to film their daily lives in Munich and their favorite spots in the city. The audience is invited to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch the videos shot by the asylum seekers.

Carmen Montoya
Festival Artist (Ghana ThinkTank)
Ghana ThinkTank is an international collective that “develops the first world” by flipping traditional power dynamics, allowing the “third world” to intervene into the lives of the people living in the so-called “developed” world. In 2016, Ghana ThinkTank asked “What’s your Houston diversity problem?” Houstonians answers included “Texas is so ‘religious’ but five times a day I feel I have to find a place to hide just to pray” and prompted the think tank of Syrian women in Belgrade to suggest a mobile mosque that will travel around the city.

Josephine Sorgwe
Primer Grey and PG> Design for the Public Interest
Josephine Sorgwe is a Clinical Supervising Attorney at the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic. She supervises law students on pro bono cases involving crime victims, asylum seekers, and more. Professor Sorgwe also provides direct pro bono legal representation to immigrant victims of crime, domestic violence, and human trafficking under a grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. She has spoken at numerous events regarding deferred action for childhood arrivals, crime victims, naturalization, and more. She is also an active member of the community, as she participates in numerous workshops and offers legal advice to community organizers and community members.

Chris Valdez
Creative Director and Strategist, Primer Grey; Co-director, Design for the Public Interest
Chris Valdez leads strategy and creative direction at Houston brand consultancy, Primer Grey where he and team develop work with a people-first approach, helping to make words and Design solve human problems. Chris has most recently contributed work to campaigns for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and First Lady Michelle Obama, and works daily with entrepreneurs and leaders across a variety of industries and sectors. Chris most recently launched PG > Design for the Public Interest with his collaborator Evan O’Neil to leverage Design and Design Thinking to increase capacity and access for the people served by Houston community and advocacy groups. Chris collaborates with United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, which organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.


Across disciplines but along parallel lines of inquiry, Current Conversations open up CounterCurrent projects to a range of perspectives – including yours.

Artist Carrie Schneider organizes a series of public conversations between CounterCurrent festival artists and University of Houston faculty experts from a range of disciplines.

Each hour-long, lunchtime talk kicks off with a rapid-fire PechaKucha followed by a relay of questions and answers among panelists, ending with an audience Q&A.

CounterCurrent festival artists across various artistic disciplines converse with experts from wide ranging disciplines at the University of Houston, including faculty experts from the Colleges of Architecture, Engineering, Business, Marketing, Technology, and Psychology, as well as the Law Center and Facilities Management Department.

Join us for other Current Conversations to explore common threads throughout the festival including: Designing for Extremes, Retelling the Taken for Granted, and Infrastructure For Impossible Movement.

About The Artist

Carrie Schneider is an artist interested in collapsing moments across time and the ability of people to reimagine their space. Her projects include Hear Our Houston (2011), a hub of public generated audio walking tours, Care House (2012), an installation in the house she grew up in considering the roles of caregiving/caretaking and the bodies of mother/home and Sunblossom Residency (2009-2015). Schneider co-organizes Charge, a convening at Art League Houston of local and national presenters to platform artist-led models and to consider artists’ work in the larger economy.