Spotlight: Sound Artist Tarek Atoui Invites Visitors and Collaborators to Experiment and Explore With Sound

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About the Artist: Lebanese artist Tarek Atoui (b. 1980) is an artist and composer whose work derives from studying the intersections of sound and human perception—whether sensorial, social, or spatial. Focusing on both the historical and contemporary medium’s capacity to facilitate human interaction, the artist’s body of work largely relies on extensive research and proprietarily engineered instruments for a wide range of applications, including performances, listening rooms, and workshops. Based in Paris, Atoui is the recipient of the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize, and, although he has exhibited widely internationally, the accompanying exhibitions are his first solo museum shows in both Texas and New York.

 

What You Need to Know: Within the context of the Covid-19 lockdown, Atoui held a series of workshops for his son’s kindergarten class in Paris. While some artists turned to digital art and virtual spaces, Atoui instead considered what audiences were still accessible—which turned out to be 4- and 5-year-old students. Through these workshops, The Whisperers was conceived and developed as an ongoing, participatory project that explores sound and the myriad ways it can be created and experienced. The Whisperers has undergone several iterations, including most recently at the Contemporary Austin, and on October 1, an expanded version will go on view at the FLAG Art Foundation, comprising new sculptural elements and featuring first-time sound artist collaborators Jad Atoui, Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. Over the course of the exhibition, these special guests will experiment and interact with the installation and its elements, and the site will also host community-based workshops and performances.

According to the Foundation: “A continuation of a project presented at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong (2021), Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris (2021), and the Contemporary Austin (2022), The Whisperers is an open-ended and cumulative investigation of sound and the ways it shapes perception. Atoui’s practice is rooted in experimentation and collaboration, and investigates how sounds can be experienced in multisensory ways, how sounds act as a catalyst for human interaction, and how sounds can relate to and be informed by social, historical, or spatial parameters. Creating assemblages of custom-built materials he calls ‘tools for listening,’ his modules combine wood, brass, water, bronze, glass, and stone to explore each material’s acoustic and conductive properties and to build sonic environments within the gallery space.”

See exhibition images from The Whisperers as shown at the Contemporary Austin below.

Installation view, Tarek Atoui, The Whisperers (2021–22), as shown at the Contemporary Austin, in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. © Tarek Atoui. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City/New York. Photo: Colin Doyle, courtesy of the Contemporary Austin.

Installation view, Tarek Atoui, The Whisperers (2021–22), as shown at the Contemporary Austin, in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. © Tarek Atoui. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City/New York. Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons, courtesy of the Contemporary Austin.

Installation view, Tarek Atoui, The Whisperers (2021–22), as shown at the Contemporary Austin, in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. © Tarek Atoui. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City/New York. Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons, courtesy of the Contemporary Austin.

Installation view, Tarek Atoui, The Whisperers (2021–22), as shown at the Contemporary Austin, in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. © Tarek Atoui. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City/New York. Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons, courtesy of the Contemporary Austin.

 

“Tarek Atoui: The Whisperers” will be on view October 1 through December 10, 2022, at the FLAG Art Foundation, 545 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001.

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