Listening For Traces: Conflict, Sound & Memory

Curated by Dr Cathy Lane, Listening For Traces: Conflict, Sound & Memory is an experimental examination of the enduring impact of conflict on people, places, language, and relationships.

More than a dozen artists from USA, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India have explored the sounds of the past and how they reverberate through time and into the present day.  In the landmark exhibition taking place at Rizq Art Initiative in Abu Dhabi the artists’ diverse work reflects the cyclical nature of conflict, the wounds of history and the potent feedback loop that continues to exert influence on today’s world.

Four films are being screened at the exhibition, plus one LED video installation, a sound dome that holds five pure sound pieces, a sonic sculpture of speakers suspended from the ceiling and two text-based installations. “A wide range of sonic methodologies are found in the exhibition including silence or imagined sound; the use of archive materials and field recordings; musical performance; sound writing and spoken word,” says Dr Lane.

Artists participating in Listening For Traces: Conflict, Sound & Memory include Abdullah Al Othman (Saudi Arabia), Asma Ghanem (Palestine), Alexia Webster (South Africa), Christopher Marianetti (USA), Jananne Al Ani (UK/Iraq), Nour Sokhon (Lebanon), Open Group (Ukraine), Shirin Neshat (Iran), Uzma Falak (India), Yara Mekawei (Egypt) and four UK artists Louise K Wilson, Martin John Callanan, Thomas Gardner and Angus Carlyle.

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat presents her 1998 show Turbulent, a two-channel sound and video installation that tackles gender inequality in her home country. Jananne Al Ani’s Sounds of War II from 2023 looks at the effects of military operations on the British landscape, while Woomera/Nurrangar from Louise K Wilson is a 2007 multi-channel sound and video installation that takes us into remote Cold War sites in the South Australian desert. Elsewhere, Thomas Gardner investigates memory, trauma and reconciliation in his 2023 work Scored Out; Martin John Callanan catalogues conflicts active between 1982 and the present day in Wars During My Lifetime; while in Waves Finding the Shore, Angus Carlyle reflects on the last battle of World War II at Tokashiki Beach in Japan.

“The works in this exhibition are concerned less with the sound of conflict and more with the impact of sound in conflict and how that becomes inscribed on landscapes and bodies,” says Dr Lane. “Some of the artists have direct experience of conflict and their work is born from and reflects this. Others are more physically removed yet linked to the past through inherited trauma or strong connection to place. Several bear witness to wars and suffering that are little known or long forgotten. They poignantly attest to the scale and geographical extent of war in our lifetimes, powerfully conveying us the immediate and enduring effects of conflict on the body and the landscapes around us.”

Listening For Traces: Conflict, Sound & Memory is presented in association with CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) a research centre within the University of the Arts in London, where Dr Lane is a professor of sound art. A hugely experienced artist, composer and academic, Dr Lane has written several books and essays about sound art.

About Rizq Art Initiative
Rizq Art Initiative (RAi) is an independent organization, devoted to fostering arts and culture. As a social enterprise, Rizq’s primary mission is to encourage cultural exchange, nurture partnerships, and provide strategic guidance for the advancement of the arts, cultural and creative sectors. Rizq’s transdisciplinary approach encompasses visual arts, design, craft, technology, artistic practice, theory and curatorial research. In pursuit of these endeavours, seeking to cultivate and strengthen bonds that intersect the rich cultural narratives of the Middle East and the Global South at large.


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