Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, LB

What stories do sounds tell us and how do we tell the story of those sounds? Lawrence Abu Hamdan focuses on these questions in his research-based practice. The “private ear”, as he calls himself, is less intrigued by the sounds people make than by the ways in which these are committed to memory, recalled and articulated, and, moreover, on the ways in which acoustic memories are instrumentalised and politicised.

After SFX and Earwitness Inventory draw in different ways on Abu Hamdan’s ongoing analysis of acoustic testimony gleaned from interviews with political prisoners and trial transcripts. Such testimony is crucial for documenting and understanding violence on all levels. Yet witnesses the world over, his research shows, lack an adequate vocabulary to describe sounds.

They inevitably rely heavily on quotidian objects to both recall and convey what they believe to have heard: a punch sounds like an egg cracking, the collapse of a building like popcorn popping and the list goes on. Together the inventoried objects serve as a surrogate for a language of sound that we do not yet speak.