Maureen Paley is pleased to announce a solo project by Lawrence Abu Hamdan that will include the presentation of the live audio visual essay Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself on the opening evening. A new work in the series Wissam will be on view in the downstairs gallery. Following the performance the two channel video installation Contra Diction (speech against itself) (2015) will be shown in the upstairs gallery.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist and ‘private ear’ whose projects have taken the form of audiovisual installations, performances, graphic works, photography, Islamic sermons, cassette tape compositions, essays, and lectures. Abu Hamdan’s interest in sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background in DIY music. He is currently a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, NYC. In 2013 Abu Hamdan’s audio documentary The Freedom of Speech Itself was submitted as evidence at the UK asylum tribunal where the artist himself was called to testify as an expert witness. He continues to make sonic analyses for legal investigations and advocacy - most recently his work was prominently part the No More Forgotten Lives campaign for Defence for Children International. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College London where he is also a PhD candidate and associate lecturer.
Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself is a live audio essay employing a series of sonic manipulations and pre-recorded samples to explore the concept and practice of Taqiya. This is a form of communication and political practice forged at remote altitudes, at the fringes of failed states, in buffer zones and on ceasefire lines. Focusing on the stories of alleged mass conversions of the Druze minority in northern Syria by Wahhabi groups Abu Hamdan investigates how such minor speech acts can help us re-appraise the precision of speaking, the multiple ways of remaining silent and the inherently unfaithful nature of ones voice.
Contra Diction (speech against itself) (2015) realises the performance as a two channel video installation in which one of the screens is a teleprompter, the speech apparatus from which the political lie often originates, and formally as a video playback device it symbolizes both duplicity and transparency. Wissam (2016) is a model of a vernacular technique that uses obsolete audio-cassette tape to ward off the birds and stop them eating fruit on the trees. Wissam is both a character in Abu Hamdan’s performance and a diagram for the concept of taqiyya.
A new monograph [inaudible] a politics of listening in Four acts by Lawrence Abu Hamdan will be published by Portikus and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen later in 2016 and comprises a series of transcripts of live speech from sermons, monologues, testimonies and interviews made during the course of the last five years.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan was born in 1985 in Anman, Jordan. He lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon.
Selected solo exhibitions include Earshot, Portikus, Frankfurt, 2016; تقيه (taqiyya), Kunsthalle St Gallen, 2015; Tape Echo, Beirut in Cairo and Van AbbeMuseum, Eindhoven, 2013; The Freedom Of Speech Itself, The Showroom, London and The Whole Truth, Casco, Utrecht, 2012. Additionally his works have been exhibited and performed in The New Museum Triennial, 2015; The Shanghai Biennial, 2014; The Whitechapel Gallery, London; MACBA Barcelona; Tate Modern London; M HKA Antwerp; The Beirut Art Center and The Taipei Biennial, all 2012. Abu Hamdan’s writing can be found in Forensis Sternberg Press, Manifesta Journal and Cabinet Magazine.