NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia by sound artist and composer Tarek Atoui, conceived as a musical composition that unfolds in space through its unique sound library and instruments. It is the first piece Atoui has created through associations between objects, instruments, and recordings, some borrowed from pre-existing projects, others newly collected and produced. The sounds are from underwater environments, as well as human and industrial activities in the harbours of Athens and Abu Dhabi, recorded for the ongoing project I/E. As part of the exhibition, Atoui will record, together with sound artist Eric La Casa, the harbour of Singapore to add to this collection.
Most of the instruments are part of The Ground project, the result of Atoui’s five-year-long observation of nature and agricultural processes in the Pearl River Delta, first presented at Mirrored Gardens in Guangzhou, China. The instruments are acoustic and electronic in nature and were made in collaboration with innovative luthiers, craftsmen, and electronic engineers. In Singapore, this ensemble will be enriched with new additions, such as a set of porcelain discs on which traditional Arab rhythms are engraved, and a record player that rotates at irregular speeds, never reading a disc the same way twice. The visitor will, therefore, witness an ever-changing sonic and visual scenery born out of the dialogue between an orchestra of unusual instruments and sounds recorded from harbours.
At the core of Atoui’s practice lies an ongoing process of inviting composers, musicians, and artists to collaborate on his pieces in search of new ideas, gestures, and experiences. For his presentation in Singapore, Atoui will engage with local and international musicians who will be invited to appropriate his composition and intervene in the exhibition space. He will work with acclaimed musicians Vivian Wang and Yuen Chee Wai, as well as music curator Mark Wong, who in turn will invite other musicians and sound artists to inhabit the installation throughout the course of the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes.
Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France) studied contemporary and electronic music at the French National Conservatory of Reims. He navigates between the vocabularies and aesthetics of the visual arts, performing arts, and music, redefining contemporary composition and sound production. In 2012, Atoui launched Serpentine Gallery’s Memory Marathon event in London with a five-hour performance that blended influences of traditional Arabic music with contemporary genres including electronic and hip-hop. He was co-artistic director of the Bergen Assembly 2016, a triennial in Norway. Recent projects have taken place at the Tate Modern, London (2016); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Bois de Boulogne (2015); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2013); and Norbergfestival (2013). Selected exhibitions include Art or Sound, Fondazione Prada, Ca’ Corner della Regina, Venice (2014); Within, Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); Metastable Circuit, la Lutherie and Dimis Reconnected, dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012). His work has been part of biennials including the Marrakech Biennale (2016); 8th Berlin Biennial (2014); 9th Biennale do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013); and the 9th and 11th Sharjah Biennial (2009/13).
Vivian Wang (Singapore) diverged from her formal training as a classical pianist when she started the avant-rock outfit The Observatory in 2001. A former TV producer-presenter as well as a film music supervisor, Wang focuses solely on music, performance, and interdisciplinary work since 2008. She performs on synth, keyboard, voice, and percussion, and tags Alice Coltrane, Robert Wyatt, Mark Hollis, Bill Evans, and Annapurna Devi as her all-time favourite musical heroes.
Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore) is a musician, artist, designer, and curator. He is a founding member of FEN (Far East Network) and Project Director of the Asian Music Network, where he co-curates the annual Asian Meeting Festival in Japan. He is a member of the avant-rock band The Observatory, where he plays guitar, synth, and electronics.
Mark Wong (Singapore) conceived Ujikaji as an independent music label. Ujikaji means “experiment” in Malay, and the label’s interests lie in the curation of experimental music, with a special focus on Southeast Asian artists and sounds. Ujikaji has released works by Magus (Leslie Low and Mark Dolmont), Dream State Vision (Shaun Sankaran), Awk Wah (Shark Fung), The Observatory, Pan Gu (Leslie Low and Lasse Marhaug), and Tim O’Dwyer.
With additional support from the Embassy of France in Singapore and the Alliance Française de Singapour.