A major international co-commission by Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Earwitness Theatre explores the politics of listening through installations acutely attentive to sound. Informed by his acoustic studies of the Syrian prison of Saydnaya, where detainees are often blindfolded and left in darkness, the exhibition examines crimes that are heard but never seen. Building on audio analysis developed by the artist and “private ear” for legal investigations and advocacy for humanitarian organizations, Earwitness Theatre both questions the ways in which rights are silenced as well as demonstrates how people’s rights may become politically audible. The exhibition consists of a video installation, a soundproof booth constructed for visitors to listen to earwitness testimonies, and Abu Hamdan’s library of objects used as mnemonic devices to facilitate re-enactments of crimes. Earwitness Theatre attempts to capture the psychological, bodily, and spatial world of the earwitness.
Abu Hamdan shared the prestigious Turner Prize for this exhibition.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Earwitness Theatre is commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London, in partnership with CAM, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. The exhibition is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator, with Misa Jeffereis, Assistant Curator.