MoMA presents the US premiere of an “audio essay” by Beirut-based Jordanian-British artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose work attempts to trace and highlight the relationship between the act of listening and politics, human rights, international law and borders, testimony, and truth. Using audio documentaries and essays, as well as audiovisual installations, Abu Hamdan expresses his fascination with different types of listening at work in today’s legal and political forums. MoMA has recently acquired three important works dealing with similar themes: The Whole Truth, Conflicted Phonemes, and The Aural Contract Audio Archive.
In this new audio essay (a term the artist prefers to “lecture-performance”), he focuses on Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. Working with Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and the survivors of Saydnaya, Abu Hamdan captures “ear-witness accounts,” as detainees reconstruct events and the architecture of the prison they experienced through sound. The work raises pivotal questions about the politics of the field known as “forensic listening.”
The artist will be joined for a conversation by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a 2015–17 Vera List Center Fellow.