Tate Modern Performance

Lawrence Abu Hamdan: After SFX

Lawrence Abu Hamdan Walled Unwalled 2018, video still. Courtesy the artist

Lawrence Abu Hamdan Walled Unwalled 2018, video still. Courtesy the artist

Don’t miss the premiere of a new, site-specific performance by artist and ‘private ear’ Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Lawrence Abu Hamdan stages a one-night-only performance exploring various aspects of sonic memory. After SFX is a performance of the sounds from Abu Hamdan’s self-constructed sound effects library and their accompanying narratives. It uses inventive methods to uncover the unexpected ways in which we encode sonic events in our minds.

After SFX is prompted by the Abu Hamdan’s investigations into crimes that had been heard but not seen. In his conversations with earwitnesses, he first attempted to use sound effects from the libraries of the BBC and Warner Brothers to see what comparisons could be made, however, these cinematic samples were too inflexible and imprecise to unlock witnesses' acoustic memories. He has since built Earwitness Inventory, a library of objects to be used specifically as mnemonic devices. These objects encompass both sounds that have been used in his interviews with earwitnesses to facilitate re-enactments of crimes, and sounds pertaining to stories in which surprising sonic analogies emerged, such as a building collapsing into a sinkhole ‘sounding like popcorn’.

The performance takes place in the context of Abu Hamdan’s free, weeklong expanded video installation Walled Unwalled in the Tanks (1 – 7 October 2018) and includes a viewing of this work.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Earwitness Inventory on view in his solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London, until 9 December.​


Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b.1985, Jordan) is an artist and audio investigator based in Beirut, Lebanon. His background as a touring musician led him to develop a deep interest in sound and its intersection with politics, which has come to share his practice. His audio investigations have been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. The artist is affiliated with the Forensic Architecture department at Goldsmiths College London where he received his PhD in 2017. Abu Hamdan is the author of the artist book [inaudible]: A Politics of Listening in 4 Acts. Recent solo exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Portikus, Frankfurt (2016); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2014) and The Showroom, London (2012).

Lawrence Abu Hamdan: After SFX is curated by Andrea Lissoni and Carly Whitefield (Tate Film).

Sound recordings and design by Adam Laschinger together with Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

Tate Modern

The Tanks

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

4 October 2018 at 21.00–22.00

Supported by