Organised in collaboration with the Fridericianum, Kassel, and the Fundação de Serralves, Porto, the exhibition Water’s Witness presents a new installation, a series of performances and collaborative workshops by the artist, musician and composer Tarek Atoui (b. 1980, Beirut). Known for his installations and performances that embody a sensory approach to space via sound and objects, Atoui’s investigative process embraces history, anthropology, ethnology and musicology.
Atoui sees sound as a catalyst for human interactions and is often collaborating with other musicians as well as researchers and musical instrument makers. Water’s Witness is an evolving project that began with a solo exhibition that Atoui presented in the Fridericianum in Kassel in 2020. Drawing upon research made in collaboration with the French musician and composer Eric La Casa, it uses sound recordings to document the human, ecological, historical and industrial realities of coastal cities with a past rooted in their docklands, such as Athens, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Beirut and Porto.
Working with materials such as metal, stone and wood and in close proximity to or under the water, Atoui uses various recording techniques to capture the sounds of the sea, the docks and the materials he collects. This archive of recorded sounds is employed in a subjective interpretation of the respective ports, bringing together realities that are both geographically and symbolically distant to forge new, intangible connections.
Objects collected by Atoui during his stay at the various ports punctuate the installation. For example, steel girders from Abu Dhabi and blocks of marble from Athens are incorporated within the installation. These elements are treated as features of a landscape, but they also serve as supports capable of physically transmitting sound.
The exhibition Tarek Atoui. Water’s Witness is organised in collaboration with the Fridericianum, Kassel, and the Fundação de Serralves, Porto.
Tarek Atoui (b. 1980, Beirut) has held exhibitions at the Fridericianum, Kassel (2020); NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2018); Fundação de Serralves, Porto (2018); Mirrored Gardens, Guangzhou (2017); Tate Modern, London (2016); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2015); and Serpentine Gallery, London (2012). His work has been presented within significant group surveys including the 13th Gwangju Biennial (2021); Printemps de septembre, Toulouse (2018); the 58th Venice Biennale (2017); the 11th and 9th Sharjah Biennial (2013, 2009); and dOCUMENTA 13 (2012). He lives and works in Paris.