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.
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
Exhibition Dates: June 2 – June 5, 2016
21 Herald Street
London E2 6JT