Resident Advisor Igor Porte conducting field recordings in Kalba Mangroves, Sharjah, 2021


Tarek Atoui’s exhibition Cycles in 11 centered around experimental and innovative musical forms and offered audiences opportunities to learn about and explore instrument-making, compositional structure and musical collaboration. The exhibition was the starting point for a regional and international residency programme wherein musicians, composers and artists have been invited to develop new work, either individually or with different audiences in Sharjah.

The residents participating in this programme had the opportunity to interact with the works presented in the exhibition. These works, developed over the last 11 years, represented the culmination of the artist’s ongoing exploration of different methods of listening, composition and performance. The instruments Atoui created are the product of extensive research into music history and tradition as well as collaborations with different experts. Challenging established ways of listening through innovative approaches to sound, the instruments also build on the artist’s earlier project WITHIN, which grew out of years of work with Deaf culture. This project, originating in Sharjah, investigated how deafness can influence the way sound performance, space and instrumentation are understood.

During the previous cycle of the residency in January 2021, Sharjah Art Foundation hosted three residents: percussionist Ivan Macera, experimental harpist Christine Kazarian and resident advisor and experimental sound artist Igor Porte. They worked extensively out of Bait Al Serkal, a heritage house located in one of the oldest areas in Sharjah that functioned as both a sound lab and a performance and listening space informed by the local tradition of hospitality.

The residents visited the mountainous and rocky landscapes of Mleiha and Al Dhaid to experience Sharjah’s natural ecology, courtesy of the Director of the Excavation and Archaeological Sites and Tangible Heritage of Sharjah Archaeological Authority, Eisa Yousif, and
collected fossils, rocks and audio recordings of Sharjah’s desert. Courtesy of Fadi Yaghmour and the EPAA, residents were also able to visit and record at the rich enclave of Khor Kalba. A nature preserve in the Emirate known for its creek, mangroves, beaches and marshes, and a key breeding ground of rare bird species, crabs and other aquatic life, this natural area presented the opportunity for many types of field recordings.

Resident advisor Igor Porte also conducted a workshop to introduce the instruments and pieces from Atoui’s exhibition to deaf students from Al Amal School for the Deaf, some of whom had been part of Atoui’s previous engagements with Sharjah. The students were able to alternatively sense and experience music and sound through vibrations.

The residents concluded their engagement with Sharjah in an organic pop-up performance at the Arts Square where Macera, Kazarian and Porte merged their individual practices, created during their research and explorations in Sharjah, with the instruments from Atoui’s exhibition.

This autumn, in a multilayered conversation with Sharjah, four residents and three resident advisors will investigate the acts of listening and sound-making by collecting physical and non-physical material through explorations around Sharjah and instruments from Cycles in 11. Their interests lie within creating matrices for building their own instruments, creating musical depictions of their experiences in Sharjah, and investigating sound through other senses. These interventions will take place in Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Al Hamriyah Studios and Dar Al Nadwa where Atoui’s instruments are located. Several workshops and performances will also take place to encourage the local audience to take part in the residency.

About Cycles in 11

Marking Tarek Atoui’s collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation and the surrounding community for more than a decade, Cycles in 11 was on view at Bait Al Serkal from 19 September 2020 to 10 April 2021.

During the exhibition, the heritage house Bait Al Serkal, located in one of the oldest areas in the city of Sharjah, operated as both a sound lab and a performance and listening space informed by the local tradition of hospitality. In Sharjah’s east coast city of Kalba, another sound lab was set up close to the emirate’s natural reserves and archaeological sites. Cycles in 11 was the starting point for a regional and international residency programme that will extend into 2022. Musicians, composers and artists will develop new work for the residency, either individually or with different audiences in Sharjah.

About Tarek Atoui

Tarek Atoui is an artist and composer working within the realm of sound. Exploring new methods of collaboration and production, Atoui’s work often revolves around performances that develop from his extensive research into music history and tradition. His use of sound challenges and expands established ways of understanding and experiencing this medium.

In his work, The Reverse Collection (2016), musical instruments of unknown age and origin, housed in an anthropology museum, are played and recorded, and then a new collection of instruments is created exclusively from listening to these recordings. His project WITHIN (2013) departs from Deaf culture to find new ideas for building instruments, composing and performing.

Atoui has participated in a number of exhibitions and festivals, including the Okayama Art Summit, Japan (2019); 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia (2019); 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012); Performa 5, New York (2011); and Sharjah Biennial 9 (2009). He has also performed at Garage Moscow (2018); CCA NTU, Singapore (2017); Tate Modern, London (2016); Serpentine Gallery, London (2012); Sharjah Art Foundation (2011); Mediacity Seoul (2010); New Museum, New York (2010) and La Maison Rouge, Paris (2010).

Atoui was one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly, Norway (2016), and STEIM Studios, Amsterdam (2007–2008). He studied contemporary and electronic music at the French National Conservatory of Reims (2007–2008).

Born in 1980 in Beirut, Atoui currently lives and works in Paris.

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