“WATERS’ WITNESS” BY TAREK ATOUI: Exploring new ways of experiencing sounds

On 24th February 2022, the Serralves Museum & Park welcomed the opening of Tarek Atoui’s exhibition “Waters’ Witness”. Artshare had the pleasure to be one of the honoured guests at the vernissage that began with a welcome speech by Phillipe Vergne, Curator and director of the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum and Ana Pinho, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Serralves Foundation. The opening was followed by an introduction by the artist himself, Tarek Atoui who guided the audience through a tour of his artworks placed across the Museum Park in Espelho de Água and in Pátio da Adelina. The evening ended with a performance by Tarek Atoui, Diana Combo and Alan Affichard that took place in the main exhibition room of the Serralves Museum.

“Artist and electroacoustic composer, Tarek Atoui (Beirut, Lebanon, 1980) works on large-scale compositions that are the result of anthropological, ethnological, musicological and technical research. His exhibitions cross installation, performance and teaching in processes that depart from the conventional notion of performance — both from the performer’s and the audience’s point of view — and that suggest visual, auditory, tactile and somatic ways of experiencing sound.” Serralves Foundation, 2022

The exhibition and the performance seek to explore the various ways that people experience sound. Atoui’s exhibition emerges from his project I/E ongoing since 2015, in which Atoui records the sounds of port cities — Athens, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Beirut and Porto — recording industrial activities, human and ecological aspects of their ports. Working in partnership with Eric La Casa, an artist and sound recording specialist, they capture the sounds below the surface of the sea or within materials such as metal, stone and wood.

Working with organic decaying materials that have been collected in the Serralves Park in partnership with Lipor, “Waters’ Witness” brings new meanings to the experience of processing and listening to sounds by acoustically rooting them in the ephemeral nature of compost.

An acoustic ecology that receives and perpetuates residual sounds across the audible boundaries of a world in flux.

“A great majority of Atoui’s work involves and evolves through participation of others. These can be designers, builders, musicians, field recordists, listeners. It is often the case that his installations offer themselves as very direct relational platforms as they can be activated by the audiences and other artists. […] Along with collaborative and educational workshops, performances will be organized throughout the entire period of the exhibition and artists will be able to engage with a diversity of sounds inhabiting the exhibition at different stages, progressing from the winter awakening up to its midsummer demise.” Serralves Foundation, 2022

‘Waters’ Witness presents connected elements in a experimental sound installation with sculptural instruments. The experience transpases language borders, by connecting participants like water, in a way that they feel and become part of the sound environment, acknowledging their own presence. Such intersection of science, technology and arts, outlines the transdisciplinary approach to creativity and innovation, which is at the heart of our projects.

Tarek Atoui: Waters’ Witness was produced by the Serralves Museum, the Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany and the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Kirchberg (MUDAM), Luxembourg, in close collaboration with the artist. In Serralves, the exhibition is curated by Filipa Loureiro.

The Exhibition is supported by Galeria Chantal Coussel, Paris and LIPOR in technical and environmental advice, and co-financed by S+T+ARTS.

You can visit the exhibition at the Serralves Museum and Park, in Porto, Portugal, until 28th August 2022. Find more information here.