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tarek atoui - the whisperers

The recipient of the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize, Paris-based artist and composer Tarek Atoui will present a reconfigured and expanded version of The Whisperers (recently on view at The Contemporary Austin) that includes two new sculptural components and a roster of collaborators unique to this presentation, including sound artists Jad Atoui, Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. Over a two-month span, collaborators will use the exhibition as a site for experimentation and regularly interact with the installation through improvisational activations, community-based workshops, and performances.

The Whisperers began during the pandemic as a series of workshops Atoui conducted with his son’s kindergarten class in Paris. “[…]Instead of shifting my practice to the net and making it virtual,” states Atoui, “I started to think, what audiences are still available in the context of lockdown.” Working with four and five-year-old students, the artist found ways to generate collective discoveries through four exploratory questions: How can we amplify spaces by using speakers and microphones immersed in solids, liquids, and gasses? How can we create non-repetitive sounds using objects that rotate or spin? How can we use our bodies to articulate sounds through gestures and performance? How can we translate sounds into sources of motion and energy? “These sessions brought me back to the basics of my practice and made me reconsider elementary things: how I work with speakers, how I work with microphones, with rotation and turntables and records, with sound in air, sound in water, sound in metal, etc.”