Tarek AtouiSongs of the Earth

Connected news 31.05.2021

He is a French-Lebanese sound artist. Tarek Atoui's name and universe circulate from Paris to New York, via Singapore and Berlin. Let's take a look at an inventor who loves the effervescence of the stage as much as the research in the studio.

May 2021. A few days after the reopening of the cultural venues, Parisians were able to discover the famous Museum of Contemporary Art at the Bourse du Commerce, brand new, in the heart of the Halles district. Amongst François Pinault's art collection, one installation, located at the end of the visit, particularly impressed the first visitors: " The Ground", a series of musical ceramic sculptures by Tarek Atoui, which come to life in an echoing game. An inventor-poet - or the opposite - the artist born in 1980 in Beirut has developed a dreamlike universe, without any systematism, at the crossroads of composition, the plastic arts and the new lutheries, always with a taste for performance, for the present moment, shared with the public.

Tarek Atoui is an electro-acoustic composer and questions the notion of a musical instrument. What is an instrument, after all? In 2008, Tarek Atoui was artistic director of STEIM in Amsterdam, the Dutch research and development centre for new electronic music instruments. This lover of the artisanal gesture conceives instruments that are sometimes disconcerting, which he introduces to the public during concerts, conferences and workshops. Last season, he was a guest artist at the Mucem in Marseille.

Electronic devices and computers, yes, but not only. A keen ethnologist, Tarek Atoui likes to return to raw materials. Between 2014 and 2016, he conceived "The Reverse Collection": first, he invited musicians to improvise on ancient instruments from the collection of the Berlin Ethnological Museum. The session was recorded, and passed on to several instrument makers, who developed eight new instruments to recreate these sounds... and imagine new compositions in the context of sound performances. This collaborative work then travelled to Mexico City and London, at the Tate Modern.

" The Ground ", presented for the first time at the 2019 Venice Biennale, is a maze of wires, tree branches, pieces of drums, turntables playing ceramic records, sculptures, again in ceramic. In addition to music, of course, and economics, Tarek Atoui studied for five years... agricultural and architectural practices! An interest in earth and form that can be found in this playful and sensual work, which titillates the imagination with a palette of subtle sounds, sometimes bordering on the inaudible. For the artist is more than ever attached to the perception of sounds and vibrations: a perception that he has been questioning tirelessly since his work, in particular, with deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

Suzanne Gervais