Abu Hamdan recognizes the space for art as a site wherein attention can be drawn to real socio-political conditions in order to challenge the structures behind those conditions. Three major discourses have emerged wherein the representation of violence is permissible—juridical, media and art. Abu Hamdan engages the aesthetic practice of art as an alternative vis-à-vis the aesthetic practices of the media and juridical to uncover and challenge their representational logics. The artist can therefore push at the boundaries of what constitutes testimony.
Testimony is integral to understanding violence, human rights violations and state abuse. Abu Hamdan’s work in this exhibition draws us not only towards questions of testimony’s presentational circumstances and conditions of use, but also towards questions of who can speak in which spaces, what kinds of talk can and cannot be heard, and what conditions establish the possibility to make claims. The exhibition creates space for listening to testimony that might otherwise not be heard. For example, that of Bassel Abi Chahine, whom Abu Hamdan interviews in the two-channel video Once Removed and whose testimony not only concerns a war-crime but as a reincarnated subject upends given assumptions about presence and witnessing. Or as in the piece Earwitness Inventory, comprised of 95 custom designed and sourced objects all derived from legal cases in which sonic evidence is contested and acoustic memories need to be retrieved, which challenges what we know about memory and testimony.