Tarek Atoui. Conjured Geographies

Curated by Marcella Beccaria

Monday, May 8, 2017, 7 p.m.

Castello di Rivoli, outdoor courtyard


Artist and electroacoustic composer, Tarek Atoui creates a new form of art where bodies and machines intermingle and become one. The artist uses self-made computers and electronic paraphernalia to hold interventions, concerts, performances, and workshops. Starting from extensive research on music history and instrumentation, his artistic practice intentionally focuses on collaborative performances in which improvisation plays a central role. In dialogue with each context, Atoui’s performances develop through relationships between history, sounds, instruments, and bodies, showing how music and new technologies can be powerful tools of expression and identity.

On the occasion of his first performance in Italy, at the Castello di Rivoli, and in anticipation of his first-ever retrospective to be held at the Museum in late 2018, the artist presents Conjured Geographies, 2016–2017, a collage of impromptu sounds that includes memories from his most important sound events: from Metastable Circuit, presented at dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), to On and From Tarab, realized at Sharjah Art Foundation and at the Serpentine Gallery (2012), up to I/E Elefsis, presented at the archeological site of Eleusis (2015), and Dahlem Sessions, held at the Anthropology Museum of Dahlem during the Berlin Biennale (2014).

In the performance Conjured Geographies (duration: 45’), the sound material is reconfigured in a heterophony, taking cue from the tarab in Arab music (from the word tarabi, meaning “to dance” or “to have fun with music”). In that tradition, heterophony plays a key role in recreating a psychophysical condition, inducing a trance or enchantment with the audience. Five or six musicians play at the same time, although each of them follows the score in his own way. These multiple sonorities with their free interpretation offer the audience the chance to experience the tarab. As explained by the artist: “The tarab is not a music genre but a state of ‘melotrance’ that you reach after being exposed to music for a certain amount of time. The tarab used to happen in courtyards, where people would come and sit for hours.”

In this performance, Atoui uses a self-made mixer with which he integrates traditional chants with his own voice in order to restore art to its foundations and its function of being “nothing but the mutual articulation, matter and body—as he states—while collapsing all geographical, temporal, and physical boundaries.”


Tarek Atoui (Lebanon, 1980) moved to Paris in 1998 where he currently lives and works. After his studies in contemporary and electronic music at the French National Conservatory of Reims, as co-director of the STEIM Studios, Amsterdam (2008), he released his first solo album of live sessions in the “Mort aux Vaches” series for the label Staalplaat.

Recent productions and performances have taken place at Tate Modern, London (2016); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2015); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2013); Norbergenfestival, Norbergen, Sweden (2013); Bik Van Der Pol, Utrecht, Holland (2011); New Museum, New York (2010); Manarat Saadiyat, United Arab Emirates (2009); La Maison Rouge, Paris (2009); Today’s Art Festival, Amsterdam (2007).

His latest performances and group exhibitions include Un-drum 3, La Maison Rouge, Paris (2010); Below 160, Salzburg Sommerszene Festival, Salzburg (2011); La Lutherie, DIMIs Re-connected, Metastable Circuit, dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012); La Suite, Serpentine Gallery, London (2012); Within, Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2013); Art or Sound, Fondazione Prada, Ca’ Corner della Regina, Venice (2014). He also took part in the 9th and 11th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2009; 2013), 9th Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2013); 9th Berlin Biennale, Berlin (2014); Marrakech Biennale, Morocco (2016).


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