Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an international sound artist and professional audio investigator based in Beirut. His broad body of work extends beyond the field of art to activism, filmmaking, and scientific research, through which he examines the aesthetics of sound and the interconnection of power, listening, and truth.Read More
Born in Amman, Jordan, Abu Hamdan moved to the United Kingdom and studied sonic arts at Middlesex University London. Graduating with a BA in 2008, he went on to study at the Centre for Research Architecture at the University of London's Goldsmiths, completing an MA in 2010 and a PhD in 2017.
As part of his PhD research for Forensic Architecture, Lawrence Abu Hamdan conducted audio investigations in support of various NGOs and social causes. Acting as a self-proclaimed 'private ear' he has used forensic audio analysis as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, and to expose war crimes, civil injustices, and human rights abuses worldwide.
Much of Abu Hamdan's artwork stems from his investigative projects. His Saydnaya (The Missing 19db) (2017) installation evolved from interviewing survivors of Saydnaya—the infamous Syrian torture prison—in 2015 in as part of an investigation with Forensic Architecture and Amnesty International.
Mimicking the 'echo profiling' technique with which witnesses may reconstruct the prison environment they were kept blindfolded in, Lawrence Abu Hamdan's Saydnaya (The Missing 19db) is made of sonic environments with interview excerpts and flat tones that invite the viewers to imagine a space with limited knowledge.
Often blurring the boundaries of science, law, and art in his work, Abu Hamdan presents his artistic insights in a diverse set of formats, including audio-visual installations (his mainstay), music tapes, graphic works, performances, photographs, essays, lectures, and even Islamic sermons. The artist has also produced several films, including Rubber Coated Steel (2016), Walled Unwalled (2018), and Once Removed (2019).
In Lawrence Abu Hamdan's interview with Mohammad Salemy for Ocula Magazine, he explained the intersection of his legal, scientific, and artistic endeavours: 'In art, you can borrow from the ways that science and law tell the truth in order to come up with the means by which art can also speak it.' Truth, as well as the legal status of the voice and the legal, political, and technological implications that have become attached to listening are core themes of Abu Hamdan's art.
Fast becoming an international name, Lawrence Abu Hamdan's work has been presented in exhibitions, biennials, and art events across the globe. His art can also be found in major public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 2019 he was jointly awarded the Turner Prize.
Impossible Speech, Vienna Secession (2020); Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Earwitness Theatre, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri (2019); Walled Unwalled, Tate Modern, London (2018); Contra-Diction: Speech Against Itself, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Earshot, Portikus, Frankfurt (2016); «تقيه (Taqiyya): The Right to Duplicity, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland (2015); Tape Echo, Beruit, Cairo (2013).
Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates (2020); Meditations in an Emergency, UCCA Beijing (2020); Turner Prize 2019, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2019); Eavesdropping, City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand (2019); Forensic Architecture: Towards an Investigative Aesthetic, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (2017); Accented, Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah (2015); Project Space: Word. Sound. Power., Tate Modern, London (2013).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020
The festival will explore artists, filmmakers and activists' responses to the glut and degradation of information.
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An Instagram account selling works donated by artists including Ali Cherri and Charwei Tsai is among the initiatives raising funds.
"The Voice Before the Law" explores the ways in which linguistic uses and misuses are bound to legal systems.
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All four artists nominated for this year's Turner Prize draw on political histories: some wide-ranging, others highly localized; one contained within the last decade, another drawing on a text from the early 15th century. With one subtle exception, none of them are directly exploring the themes that emerged after the electoral shocks of 2016...