by Sukanya GargOct 05, 2019
Jordanian artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b. 1985, Amman, Jordan) is the winner of the Baloise Art Prize 2018. His audio-visual and installation works address the political dimensions of language and communication. On the basis of auditory perception, the artist follows traces of state or industrial violence as well as the mechanisms of surveillance and propaganda.
The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is dedicating a solo exhibition, The Voice Before the Law, to the artist, whose video and audio installation This whole time there were no landmines (2017) is at the centre of the presentation. The work deals with physical and emotional boundaries in a haunting way, and was purchased as part of the prize for the collection of the Nationalgalerie.
Shown on eight opposite square screens, the film and audio footage of the installation consists of mobile phone recordings taken during protests and the very first border crossing on May 15, 2011, in the Golan Heights, a rocky plateau region in the Middle East that had been the subject of various conflicts in the past. Israel annexed most of the Golan Heights in 1967. Due to the special acoustics, part of the region became known as the ‘shouting valley’. The topography enables communication with megaphones across the border and was important for the families of the Arab religious community of the Druze, even more so in the days before mobile phones.
Two further works complete the exhibition: In Conflicted Phonemes (2012) and Disputed Utterance (2019), where Abu Hamdan explores language analysis methods in connection with international court and asylum procedures. Hamdan, who works with Forensic Architecture as a research fellow and sound expert, has been featured at key biennials in recent years, from Gwangju to Sharjah to Venice. This year the artist has been nominated for the Turner Prize.
Curated by Ina Dinter, the exhibition will be on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin from October 26, 2019 to February 9, 2020.
The special exhibition by the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, is made possible by the Baloise Group. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Wienand Verlag, approximately 50 pages, with essays by Skye Arundhati Thomas, Ina Dinter, and Jens Maier-Rothe.