Fellowship

Fellow 2019/2020

Urok Shirhan at Propositions#9: Deserting from the Culture Wars, BAK, 2019, Photo: Tom Janssen

Urok Shirhan

Working at the intersection of performance, visual arts, and critical theory, artist Urok Shirhan’s work explores the politics of sound, image, and speech in relation to power and affect. Her projects are often entangled with found materials and autobiographic narratives. Her latest body of research considers questions of the voice as well as the tongue in relation to language, phonetics, displacement, and assimilation. Shirhan has an MA from Goldsmiths University of London, London and a BFA from Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Recent presentations have been at Onassis Stegi, Athens, 2020; MoMA PS1, New York, 2019–2020; TENT, Rotterdam, 2019; Drodesera Festival, Dro, 2018; AUB Art Galleries, Beirut, 2017–2018; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 2017; Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow, 2016; Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam, 2016; among others. Shirhan lives and works in and out of Utrecht.

Urok Shirhan

Working at the intersection of performance, visual arts, and critical theory, artist Urok Shirhan’s work explores the politics of sound, image, and speech in relation to power and affect. Her projects are often entangled with found materials and autobiographic narratives. Her latest body of research considers questions of the voice as well as the tongue in relation to language, phonetics, displacement, and assimilation. Shirhan has an MA from Goldsmiths University of London, London and a BFA from Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Recent presentations have been at Onassis Stegi, Athens, 2020; MoMA PS1, New York, 2019–2020; TENT, Rotterdam, 2019; Drodesera Festival, Dro, 2018; AUB Art Galleries, Beirut, 2017–2018; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 2017; Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow, 2016; Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam, 2016; among others. Shirhan lives and works in and out of Utrecht.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

One of the main interests in Urok Shirhan’s practice is power, and the ways in which power is performed—and subverted—through sound, image, and speech. Her research often emerges from questions informed by her biography and family history of political migrations. As an Iraqi-born, once asylum-seeker turned “new” Dutch citizen, issues surrounding displacement, identity, and belonging are of particular interest. The contemporary era is one of increasing anti-immigrant sentiment and renewed fascist rhetoric. The departure point of Shirhan’s research, Performing the Nation, has been invested in understanding these mechanisms and the ways in which they are—however subtly—expressed in day-to-day interactions, images, and sounds. Throughout the Fellowship, the research has moved away from the “Nation” as such as a result of distinct events and sociopolitical triggers: the Lebanese and Iraqi October Revolutions, specifically, and the shapeshifted audiovisual sphere following the global pandemic. Continuing her research, Shirhan thinks through the hypersomatic experience of being immersed in a social uprising “IRL”—in real life—to the distant virtual experience of the same event “IRT”—in real time—that is, live. With the socially distant sphere of global lockdown, the unprecedented activation of (online) radio spaces in the Arab world seems to engage a similar enquiry, and now, instead of an ‘IRL’ event that can be followed virtually by some, there is a collective ‘IRT’ that is shared, regardless of proximity and distance. One of the foci becomes the separation of image from sound, and of body from voice, disrupting (or perhaps exposing) the “familiar” and “habitual.” Engaging with these materials through sound, voice, and body directly as affective forms of knowing inseparable from thought and discourse, she asks, among other things: What happens, to our own speech and that of others when we prioritize listening over seeing? How is being sonically “tuned in” collectively, in-real-time, live, different from being together in real life? What kinds of solidarities are possible across distance? What are some former and current instances of political solidarity through song and sound? How does the current activation of radio in the Arab region differ from its colonial and imperial origins?

The Ether and Radio Alhara: Ella Finer, Hazem Jamjoum, and Reem Shadid

Fellow Urok Shirhan convenes a session with BAK, centering her research on audio forms,”collective listening, acoustic commons, and… what the shift from the eye to the ear could hold for us.” Over two days and a few digital sessions, Fellows heard talks about historic uses of radio, listened to sound pieces alone together, and experimented […]

Program

sonic science fiction transmission

12 September 2020, 12.00-21.45

Propositions #12: Waves Breaking Walls, Futures in Movement

Related content

Training by Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Hamada al-Joumah: An Investigation into Collective Work Processes for Self-Determination

BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and community activist Hamada al-Joumah convene the sixteenth training as part of the Trainings for the Not-Yet, An Investigation into Collective Work Processes for Self-Determination, from 27 November to 1 December 2019. The training focuses on discussions, collective readings, presentations, and exercises for developing a resource box for collective working and […]

The Architecture of Entanglement Ontology

During  the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2018, The Swamp School will function as a changing, flexible, open-ended infrastructure that supports experiments in design, pedagogy and artistic intelligence. Invited designers and scholars, including BAK Fellow 2017/2018 Pelin Tan, will conduct performative lectures and lead workshops for participants and visitors to the Biennale. On Saturday 26 May 2018, Pelin […]

Archival Propositions

BAK 2018/2019 Fellows Jessica de Abreu and Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh present at Propositions #7/6: Archive, the final iteration of the public series Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods. The event also features Ariel Caine (Forensic Architecture, London) and takes place at BAK in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice (18 October 2018–27 January 2019). This program is […]

Vereniging Ons Suriname: 100 Years of Emancipation and Struggle at the Black Archives

The exhibition Vereniging Ons Suriname: 100 years of Emancipation and Struggle (2019–2020), celebrating Vereniging Ons Suriname‘s 100th anniversary, at The Black Archives, Amsterdam is co-curated by BAK 2018-2019 Fellow Jessica de Abreu, 2019/2020 Fellow Mitchell Esajas along with colleagues at The Black Archives. It showcases the often hidden histories of Surinamese activism and anti-racist work in the Netherlands. The exhibition features research conducted during the Fellowship as well as art works by 2018/2019 co-Fellow Patricia Kaersenhout, depicting revolutionary women of color, including de Abreu.