“Bird Watching”at Museum of Islamic Art & VCUarts Qatar this Monday and Tuesday

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Award-winning artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose activities take freely from the traditions of investigative journalism, human-rights campaigns and conceptual art, will be giving his Crossing Boundaries Lectures titled, “Bird Watching” at VCUarts Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art

Award-winning artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan will be giving his Crossing Boundaries Lectures titled, “Bird Watching” at the Museum of Islamic Art and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar).

The lectures, the latest in Abu Hamdan’s series of live audio essays, examines the contemporary politics of listening, and the importance of the “earwitness”. They will take place on April 1 at the Museum of Islamic Art, and on April 2 at VCUarts Qatar.

In “Bird Watching”, Jordan-born Abu Hamdan, who media company Bloomberg said “is in every important museum collection around the globe”, will bring the audience through the earwitness testimony of survivors from Sayndaya prison near Damascus who were blindfolded or kept in total darkness for extremely long periods, and who developed an acute sensitivity to sound. The prison is inaccessible to independent observers and monitors, and the memories of those who survived it are the only resource available from which to learn of, and document, the violations still taking place there.

However, the capacity of detainees to see anything in Saydnaya was highly restricted as they were mostly kept in darkness, blindfolded, or made to cover their eyes. As a result, the prisoners developed an acute sensitivity to sound. Through new and dedicated techniques of earwitness interviews created by Abu Hamdan, the witnesses reconstructed the architecture and events of the prison they experienced through sound.

The lectures will take place on Monday, April 1 at 6:30pm at the Museum of Islamic Art Auditorium, and on Tuesday, April 2 at 12:45pm at VCUarts Qatar’s Atrium. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Abu Hamdan’s interest with sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background as a touring musician and facilitator of DIY music. His audio investigations have been used as evidence at the UK’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organizations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International.

His works are amongst the collections at the MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York, the Van AbbeMuseum in Eindhoven, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Modern in London.

More information is available at www.qatar.vcu.edu/events/crossing-boundaries-lecture-by-lawrence-abu-hamdan

About Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar

Established in 1998 through a partnership with Qatar Foundation, VCUarts Qatar is the international branch campus of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, a top-ranked art and design program in the U.S.  VCUarts Qatar is celebrating a fruitful 20-year alliance between VCU and the Qatar Foundation that underscores the commitment of each institution to excellence, inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global setting.
VCUarts Qatar offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design, graphic design, interior design and painting and printmaking, a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in design.  A vibrant community with global reach, VCUarts promises to instill in students a lifelong passion for education and the arts.

VCUarts Qatar offers valuable opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and connects VCUarts to the influential art and design world of the Middle East and beyond. The campus attracts renowned contributors to contemporary visual culture for speaking and teaching engagements, and hosts two major international events:  Tasmeem, a biennial art and design conference; and the Hamad bin Khalifa Islamic Art Symposium.

Qatar Foundation – Unlocking Human Potential

‪Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development (QF) is a private, non-profit organization that is supporting Qatar on its journey from carbon economy to knowledge economy by unlocking human potential, for the benefit of not only Qatar, but the world.  Founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, QF is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

QF’s work encompasses education, research and community development.  World-class universities are brought to Qatar to help create an education sector in which young people can develop the attitudes and skills required for a knowledge economy. At the same time, QF builds Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercializing solutions through key sciences.  The Foundation also works to foster a progressive society while enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the community.