Fellowship

Fellow 2019/2020

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

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