Tarek Atoui: Waters’ Witness

Tarek Atoui “Waters’ Witness”

March 3, 2022

Serralves Museum and Park, Porto, Portugal
24 FEB – 28 AUG 2022

Artist and electro-acoustic composer Tarek Atoui (Beirut, Lebanon, 1980) works on large-scale compositions that stem from anthropological, ethnological, musicological, and technical research. His exhibitions weave installations, performances, and educations, in processes that move away from the conventional notion of performance, both for the performer and the audience, and that suggest forms of visual, aural, tactile, and somatic experience of sound.

This first exhibition in Portugal is part of the project I/E, ongoing since 2015, in which Atoui captures the sounds of port cities — Athens, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Beirut or Porto – by recording their harbours’ industrial, human, and ecological activities. Together with artist/recordist Eric La Casa, they listen to sound below the surface of the sea or within materials such as metal, stone, and wood.

On Waters’ Witness, the audio recordings of the sea ports of Athens, Abu Dhabi and Porto are played through materials chosen in every location — marble stones from Athens, steal beams from Abu Dhabi, and wooden structures housing compost, worms and organic material specifically produced for the Serralves presentation.

The work with organic decomposing matter takes Waters’ Witness in a new direction: an acoustic ecology that receives and perpetuates residual sounds through the audible frontiers of a world in flux. This unique soundscape extends from the Museum’s central room to the Park in the shape of sound constellations, platforms and systems activated through the entire period of the exhibition in scheduled performances, collaborative and educational workshops.

Tarek Atoui: Waters’ Witness was produced by Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, the Serralves, Porto, and the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Kirchberg (MUDAM), Luxemburg, in close collaboration with the artist. In Serralves, the exhibition is curated by Filipa Loureiro and received the generous support from Chantal Crousel Gallery, Paris and co-financing from S+T+ARTS.

For more information on the exhibition, please visit https://www.serralves.pt/en/ciclo-serralves/2202-exhibition-tarek-atoui/.

Image: Tarek Atoui. Recording session in Porto. The intersection of the ocean and the Douro. June 2018. Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger