Release: 22 November 2022
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Artist and electro-acoustic composer Tarek Atoui (Beirut, Lebanon, 1980) works on large-scale compositions that stem from anthropological, ethnological, musicological, and technical research. His exhibitions weave installations, performances, and education, in processes that move away from the conventional notion of performance, both for the performer and the audience, and that suggest forms of visual, aural, tactile, and somatic experience of sound. Atoui’s first exhibition in Portugal, Waters’ Witness, at the Serralves Museum, is part of the project I/E, ongoing since 2015, in which he captures the sounds of port cities — Athens, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Beirut or Porto — by recording their harbours’ industrial, human, and ecological activities. Together with artist/recordist Eric La Casa, they listen to sound below the surface of the sea or within materials such as metal, stone, and wood. On Waters’ Witness, the audio recordings of the seaports of Athens, Abu Dhabi and Porto are played through materials chosen in each location — marble stones from Athens, steal beams from Abu Dhabi, and wooden structures housing compost, worms and organic material, specifically produced for the Serralves presentation. The work with organic decomposing matter takes Waters’ Witness in a new direction: an acoustic ecology that receives and perpetuates residual sounds through the audible frontiers of a world in flux. This unique soundscape extends from the Museum’s central room to the Park in the shape of sound constellations, platforms and systems activated throughout the entire period of the exhibition in scheduled performances, collaborative and educational workshops.
As Things Flow (for Waters’ Witness) is the recording of a performance held on July 3, 2022, as an activation of the exhibition Waters’ Witness by Tarek Atoui at Fundação de Serralves — Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto. The exhibition was curated by Filipa Loureiro and on view between February 24 and August 28, 2022, and included a series of activation performances curated by Pedro Rocha. Image: Tarek Atoui, “Waters’ Witness”, installation view, Fundação de Serralves, 2022; photo by Filipe Braga.