Eloquent and concise review of Bird Watching in Brussels

“A blind man sees the world so clearly. Eyes are but credible deceivers.”
- Valle Inclán, Bohemian Lights

Vision takes you by the nose and drags you after it. We access the past with hindsight. We even see what one another mean. Our sight is infinitely versatile – we can watch, look, peek, glance, gaze, ogle, glimpse, peer and stare. Compare the paucity of our ears, with which we can merely listen or hear. Abu Hamdan, in league with Amnesty International, has extended the modal dominion of the ears by reclaiming their right to witness.
Every crime leaves something behind, but visual traces are apt to be lost as the hegemony clenches its twin pincers of erasure and saturation. In defiance, Abu Hamdan hands the mantle of truth over to sound, where mottled noise becomes an audio blueprint, and the ring of a gunshot testifies to the shape of its bullet. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers killed two unarmed teens with supposedly ‘non-lethal’ rubber bullets, but recordings of the weapons going off tell another story. In Syria’s Saydnaya prison, inmates have their sight stolen from them, and human-rights groups have no way of monitoring internal conditions, but here again sound may provide a lever to wedge against the deadbolts of darkness.
Sound can, however, be an equally powerful tool for incumbent power. Abu Hamdan reveals how the UK government uses the high-pitched frequencies of the street electricity boxes to geotag footage taken by the public, and thereby secretly surveil the citizenry. He shares technology being developed in the USA to listen in on private conversations by mapping molecular movements caused by sound waves on the surfaces of everyday objects.
Despite the volley of facts, Abu Hamdan cannot be accused of subjugating art to science – all of this comes out in artworks that range from humorous to macabre, finding form in striking sculpture, video, and artistic interactions. In Birdwatching, he brings the audience through a fascinating dossier of sonic sleuthing, as well as strumming a complex tablature of politics and art praxis. As the line between aesthetics and anaesthetics becomes increasingly blurred, Abu Hamdan’s troubling subject matter brings with it the right kind of ache. As contemporary art resists the encore of history which calls it raucously back to the lap of the global super-rich, as it sinks ever deeper into the stymying quicksand of hyper-capitalism, Birdwatching is a vine thrown out.

Anthony for DRAFF

Dj Business Class does a mix for DIS magazine

You may or may not know that I DJ under the name Dj Business Class - here is my first online mix made for Dis magazine- I hope you enjoy! 

1. Dj Khaled Al Masri
2. Dj Wolfulis Hamada Enani - The Madness 2015
3. Metwa & Saif - I hit myself
4. 808 Mafia - Danny Glover (Young Thug) Instrumental 2014
5. Future - March Madness prod. by 808 Mafia 2015
6. Unknown (Cairo)
7. Dj Amr 7a7a - 50 cent in da club remix
8. Dj Figo
9. Maurice Louca - Malnash Diyah (Spineless) 2014
10. Dj Bouchra al [inaudible] - Unknown mix 2012
11. Tarek al safa7 - remix 2012
12. Dj A7mad Al Da5eel - Volcano remix 2013
13. Sarya Sawas - Just listen to me your driving me crazy 2011

Huffington Post wirte up for The All Hearing

Moving top-down through the museum, one of the first videos you encounter is Lawrence Abu Hamdan's piece The All-Hearing. The video is produced in a fairly traditional documentary form, while what it contains is a calculated, instigated performative work. Hamdan asked two sheikhs in Cairo to deliver sermons denouncing noise-pollution, simultaneously blasting the sermons live from loudspeakers outside the mosque. The nature of this seemingly simple act is indeed quite complex, and made so by the context of Egypt's current militarized state. The authorities in Cairo have attempted to suppress oppositional speech through policy -- firstly by dictating what topic every sermon in Cairo should be each week, and secondly through the guise of anti-noise pollution legislation in order to prevent anti-government sentiments from spreading through loudspeakers, which are commonly found around the city. Herein Hamdan makes a political paradox: the sheikhs become symbolically complicit with both the government agenda and the same activities this agenda attempts to quell. This is not simply a documentation, or even a story, of two sheik's delivering two sermons, but a clever act of civil disobedience, using religion and public space as a conduit.  read the whole article here...    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christian-hendricks/the-new-museum-gets-geopo_b_7298376.html

Art Agenda write up of Armory Commission

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s commissioned project, A Convention of Tiny Movements (2015). Part of it (there’s also an audio essay) is 5000 bags of potato chips distributed through the fair. The back is printed with a text about computer scientists at MIT who developed a system that can, by reading the small vibrations in any given object, recover the sounds that produced them. It means that any object can become a listening device, including any of the bags of chips produced for the fair. As I write this, the (ahem, empty) bag of chips beside me on my desk, I’m reminded—in case I forgot amidst all those paintings—that a small intervention in the tried-and-tested structure of the art fair can once again turn everything political. Of course it’s possible to see art at a fair and think through surveillance, larger political structures, and economics beyond just those of the art world.

rest of the great article by Orit Gat here..


Press from the New Museum Triennial

Both Tape echo 2013-14 and The All-Hearing 2014 are on show at the New Museum Triennial which opened on Tuesday night ...

Andrew Russeth for Artnews:

“The triennial is mercifully short on research-intensive, documentation-heavy projects—the bane of so many international surveys. And the few examples here are powerful. One standout: Jordan-born artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who lives in London, contributes a video that shows two Cairo sheiks giving sermons, at the artist’s behest, on noise pollution—a topic with more political implications than one might expect, given that authorities there have curtailed amplified speech as a way of curbing dissent.”


James Tarmy for Bloomberg:

" it’s easy to overlook some of the better works because there are so many vying for your consideration. Monumental interactive bunkers by the artist Nadim Abbas or a bright, looming installation by the artist Guan Xiao might grab your attention, but smaller works are the stars of the show. I’m thinking of a sound installation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan"



MoMA Acquisitions

It's official MoMA NYC are the new owners of my works The Whole Truth, Conflicted Phonemes and The Aural Contract Audio Archive. 


Armory Commissioned Artist 2015

by Carol Vogel published in the New York Times...


There are so many art fairs these days that organizers have to keep reinvigorating them to attract an audience and stand out from the pack.

The Armory Show next spring, from March 5 through 8 on Piers 92 and 94 by the Hudson River, will feature a section devoted to art from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, based in Beirut and London, has been named its commissioning artist, creating a work that will be on view there, as well as a limited-edition print that will be sold to benefit the Museum of Modern Art.

This is the sixth year that the fair has homed in on art from a specific geographic region, commissioning an artist to represent it and appointing a special curator to organize the section, which it calls Armory Focus. Last year it chose China and tapped Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, as organizer. The commissioning artist was Xu Zhen.

This year Omar Kholeif, curator at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, has agreed to be the curator. He will illustrate the region’s growth as an artistic center and plans to include galleries and artists from the region, as well as showcasing site-specific projects.

“It’s about journeys and migrations and the disparate cultures dictated by the context of the city,” Mr. Kholeif said, adding that he aims to shine a light on a broader notion of art history, one that goes beyond the conventions of the Western canon.

Noah Horowitz, executive director of the Armory Show, said that highlighting the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean will “give voice to a part of the art world that is not well represented in the marketplace.”

The fair will also introduce American audiences to Mr. Hamdan, 29, who is better known abroad than here, having had one-man shows in London, Cairo, and Utrecht and Eindhoven in the Netherlands, in addition to being included in group shows, like one at the Tate Modern in London. Known for creating projects that incorporate notions of politics, sound and listening, he said this week that he was hoping to create a project that will come out of a residency he is attending at M.I.T. and that he described as “looking at the way speech can be recovered from the objects.”

Though he doesn’t consider himself a sound artist, he wants to use “listening as a social and political practice, questioning what listening really is.”

Contra-Diction in Art Forum

On the opening night of Meeting Points 7, Lawrence Abu Hamdan presented a riveting new piece in the Beirut Art Center’s auditorium, a lecture-performance about lying that moved deftly through police procedurals, courtroom testimonies, Shiite jurisprudence, and the concept of taqqiya, for which a religious adherent either denies or blasphemes his faith to save his own life. Abu Hamdan pushed the phenomenon further to consider “more complex forms of self-representation that have a political potency beyond self-preservation.” Exploring taqqiya in relation to stories that began circulating in December, about eighteen Druze villages in northern Syria where a renegade sheikh was said to have forced inhabitants to convert to Sunni Islam, he blurred the boundaries between “submissive and subversive,” between “traitor and translator,” and between “free speech and speaking truly.”

- Kaelen Goldie-Wilson writing in artforum 


Great Review of Language Gulf In the Shouting Valley 2013 by Jim Quilty

From the English Language Lebanese Newspaper- the Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s “Language Gulf in the Shouting Valley” (2013) is rooted on what may be the Golan Heights’ best-known cultural activity.

Members of the Druze community straddle the border dividing Israeli-occupied Syria from Israel’s Palestinian lands. In lieu of direct communication, family members and friends on either side of the line fall back on shouting at one another from opposite sides of the cease-fire line, which has come to be called “The Shouting Valley.”

Abu Hamdan’s 15-minute “audio essay” is installed within a gray-painted alcove distinguished by sound-baffling foam strips on the left and right walls and atop the viewing bench (so it’s more comfortable than the others in this exhibition).

Intermittently a generous screen flashes to life with the video component of this sound work – shaky hand-held camera shots from the Shouting Valley – but the main body of the work issues from two small wall-mounted speakers.

The soundtrack has two components – the shouts and screams of residents from either side of the valley and Abu Hamdan’s interview with scholar Lisa Hajjar. An authority on the incarceration and torture protocols of the U.S. and client regimes like Israel, Hajjar discusses the liminal position of Israel’s Druze.

As they are heterodox Muslims, the Israeli regime has “Orientalized” the Druze as “non-Arab” collaborators. The only Palestinians eligible for Israel’s military draft, while still subject to its arbitrary land confiscation, young uneducated Druze men are employed in intermediary roles – translators in the occupation’s military courts, for example – that Israel’s Arab-Jewish citizens are discouraged from playing.

Druze conscripts face unusual pressure to demonstrate their loyalty to the occupation regime. In performance, the Druze translators are so aggressive and uncooperative during land-confiscation hearings that Palestinian plaintiffs are reduced to mere objects.

In Hajjar’s words, the Druze mouthpieces of the occupation are the grease that allows it to operate. Abu Hamdan proposes that, like the Shouting Valley, the Druze role as mouthpiece reflects the community’s liminal status as translator, transgressor, traitor and collaborator.

“Language Gulf” is one of 24 works now on show in “Ten Thousand Wiles and a Hundred Thousand Tricks,” the exhibition component of Meeting Points 7, the transnational contemporary art road show, up at the Beirut Art Center.

Abu Hamdan’s politically grounded installation art is more sophisticated than it appears. This is less a matter of artistic modesty than the BAC’s staging: As mounted here, the work’s sound design makes the shrieks issuing from the audiovisual footage much louder than the interview portions that give the piece its intellectual girth.

Ironically, informed members of the public skirting “Language Gulf” may assume they already know what the work is “about,” and not bother listening to it properly.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Art/2014/Apr-16/253427-art-nesting-in-archives-and-activism.ashx#ixzz30Ls7v0J5 
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)