This group exhibition will bring together newly commissioned and existing artworks from six contemporary artists who examine oral history and aural traditions and the roles they play in shaping and recalling history. Across a variety of media, the artists explore the evocative potential of sound, from stories to music to ambient noise. The artists in the exhibition employ different sonic strategies to both conjure and challenge cultural memory, and connect the past to the present. Sound becomes a medium of performing history and, in turn, listening a performative act.
Echoes & Reverberations features work by: Jumana Emil Abboud (b. 1971, lives and works in Jerusalem), Anas Al-Shaikh (b. 1968, lives and works in Bahrain), Basma Alsharif (b. 1983, lives and works nomadically), Samah Hijawi (b. 1976 Lives and works between Jordan and Belgium), Magdi Mostafa (b. 1982, lives and works in Cairo, Egypt) and Joe Namy (b. 1978, lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon).
Recollection, and the act of re-telling, is explored in Jumana Emil Abboud’s A Happy Ending part II: Two Skins (2015). Encompassing drawing, performance and sculpture, the work draws on motifs from Palestinian folk-tales and ceremonies and explores the power of objects to act as vessels for personal stories. In an act that echoes the practice of gift-giving during Palestinian ceremonies, the small talismanic objects that form part of the work will be passed on to audience members during Abboud’s vocal performance at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on July 18.
Basma Alsharif’s film We Began by Measuring Distance (2009) considers the relationship of individual memories to political history, and how image and sound can communicate the past while Samah Hijawi explores the ways in which Palestine has been represented, recorded and remembered in visual and oral culture in her Paradise Series (2013). On the performance day, Hijawi will also present a performance-lecture The Wandering Singer of Tales, on the life of a famous singer called Layla.
In several works in the exhibition, sound is used to evoke specific cultures and practices. Anas Al- Shaikh’s two-channel video work My Land, 2 (2009) features Al-Efjiri, a century-old pearl divers’ song that recalls the shared heritage, culture and history of the people of Bahrain. Magdi Mostafa’s soundsculpture Wisdom Tower – from his series Sound Cells, (Fridays) (2009-2012) explores religious conservatism and globalization. It features the sound of the azan, the Muslim call to prayer, and the Friday sermon, both recorded in Mostafa’s neighbourhood of Cairo.
Finally, Joe Namy’s installation – a deconstruction of a harmonium – forms part of the artist’s investigation into the complex history and politics of the instrument and references his performance on 18 July which will bring together an assembly of harmonium players to perform an interpretation of his text-based score, space, breath, time.
The experience of collective listening is central to Echoes & Reverberations and a number of new performances relating to the artworks will take place on a performance day on 18 July. Schedule detailed overleaf.
Echoes & Reverberations is co-curated by Aaron Cezar, Director, Delfina Foundation and Cliff Lauson, Curator, Hayward Gallery, with Jane Scarth, Residency and Projects Manager, Delfina Foundation, and Eimear Martin and Dominik Czechowski, Assistant Curators, Hayward Gallery.
The exhibition is a collaboration between Hayward Gallery, Delfina Foundation, the Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah and Shubbak.