How do we listen? Can we adjust our listening by having a better understanding of our senses? Tarek Atoui is a visual artist, electroacoustic composer and instrument maker of Lebanese origin. In his visual work, he explores the interactions between kinetic art and sound art. For a few years now, he has constructed a protean project based on the way in which people who are deaf or hard of hearing perceive sound. With a taste for new technologies, he develops novel methods to produce sound. An ongoing reflection on the instrument and the way in which it is play lies at the heart of his work. In the festival centre Atoui exhibits the various instruments he has made so far. He is also expanding on his research in a workshop open to the public for experimenting and composing freely in an artistic process of sharing and in a delightful disruption of the senses on the fringes of sound.
EXTRA: Book your sound massage at the festival centre.
13, 14, 21, 25/05
A project by
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris)
In collaboration with
Arts & Culture
With support from
Centre national des arts plastiques
Within, a listening laboratory
Tarek Atoui’s work occupies a special place at this year’s Kunstenfestivaldesarts. His artistic practice is fluid and varied, continually shifting between sound, visual, physical and performative expressions. It appears gradually, shifting from one context to the next, each time generating new encounters and invitations, different workshop formats and a sharing of experience. Atoui’s work takes a sharp look at listening and the act of listening. It reveals the materiality of sound, its range and details, its spatiality; it tests sound’s ability to define our relationship to time and space and to our own physical presence.
Sound is at the heart of his language, but so is the gesture that produces it. The musical instruments designed by the artist offer an invitation to perform and open up various possible relationships with the musicians’ bodies and gestures. A singular choreographic dimension emanates from his work: how should you position yourself in relation to the instrument, how should you use it and which parts of your body should you use? The audience’s bodies are also at the heart of the experience. They turn into receptors as well as conductors of the sound material that vibrates and extends from the floor to the walls, from the feet to the hands.
Tarek Atoui’s propositions of sound, visuals and performance appeal to the senses and eliminate hierarchies from our modes of perception. Touch and listening are not reduced to merely following and confirming visual perception. They offer a sensorial approach to the world around us and put in place novel modes of communication linking individuals together. They create forms of empathy and sharing, without resorting to words, but instead using an ultra-sensorial, physical, tactile and sound language that is positioned within, or beyond, words.
The fluidity of Atoui’s practice brings with it a fluidity of modes of presentation and perception. His work does not offer unique, one-dimensional and finished forms, but rather offers itself to the audience like a process, open and constantly changing, giving rise to different forms of invitations. Musical instrument makers, composers, musicians (amateur and professional) and the hearing-impaired are invited to collaborate and develop various forms and events together that are shared with the public. At the Kunstenfestivaldesarts these forms and events come in the shape of an exhibition and a series of concerts.
The exhibition space is also a working room, exhibiting fascinating musical instruments designed by the artist that are brought to life in different workshops and rehearsal sessions. The concerts – weekly encounters throughout the festival – will take place on Fridays at a different venue every week. Each concert combines a new group of musicians and hearing-impaired people around musical compositions created for the occasion.
Finally, it is also the political dimension of this eminently intuitive and human work that we find remarkable. It transcends borders (between professional and amateur practices, between musical genres, between the hard of hearing and the hearing). Beyond any linguistic rhetoric, he creates dialogue, mutual listening, acute attention to the other person and maximum alertness to the immediate environment.Back to top
Tarek Atoui was born in Lebanon in 1980 and moved to France in 1998 where he studied sound art and electroacoustic music. In 2006 he released his first solo album as part of the Mort Aux Vaches series for Staalplaat Records, and in 2008 he served as artistic director of STEIM in Amsterdam, a centre for the research and development of new electronic musical instruments. Atoui has presented his work internationally at the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates (2009 and 2013); the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2010); Mediacity Biennial in Seoul (2010); the Haus Der Kunst in Munich (2010); Performa 11 in New York (2011); dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany (2012); the Serpentine Gallery in London (2012); and the 8th Berlin Biennial (2014). In 2016 he was appointed one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly, a triennial for contemporary art in Norway. Tarek Atoui currently lives and works in Paris, France.Back to top