With no hierarchy of influences or genres, Tarek Atoui’s instrument-works weave networks and are constructed by association. They are constantly evolving, learning from themselves, from the space they occupy and from the hand that plays them. Against the work as an immutable entity, the artist highlights the faculties of improvisation and arrangement inherent in music. His works reinvent themselves, assemble themselves and respond to each other like so many cells open to disturbance and capable of integrating the other – the musician, the visitor, the space… - into their structure.
This is what makes The Drift so special. Throughout his career, Tarek Atoui has oscillated between creating instruments and creating listening devices. Projects such as WITHIN and The Reverse Collection imagined new ways of generating sound. Others, such as the Whisperers, explored the way in which a sound that has already been produced can be heard through marble, metal or water. At the IAC, the whole ensemble is transformed into a living body whose organs work in synergy, linked together by computer systems. It is no longer a question of separate projects or pieces of research: sound creation and listening are inseparable.
For the visitor, it is not a matter of contemplation. You have to wander, move around, tilt your head, change your height and perspective – in short, cross the exhibition space as you would a landscape. Listening is a commitment, a personal incursion that begins by listening to oneself, one’s curiosity and intuitions. It is the ear that guides your steps, or perhaps the sight of a stone being moved or water flowing.
It’s no coincidence that pedagogy takes root in the exhibition space of The Drift. The artist creates a conversation as much as he creates a score. By inviting musicians and audiences to activate and appropriate some of his instruments, he offers a space for exchange in which each person’s singularities contribute to the creation of a shared harmony. The way in which music is played or appreciated is no longer based on a form of knowledge but on an introspective relationship with sounds and instruments. You have to immerse yourself in the soundscape, let yourself be transported by the drift. To drift: to explore at random, almost under the influence of an immaterial force. It is from this movement that the exhibition takes its name: the abandonment of a form of control in favour of a sensitive experience that sweeps us along.
Tarek Atoui is an artist and electroacoustic composer, working within the realm of sound performance and composition. He engineers complex and inventive instruments as well as arranges and curates interventions, concerts, performances, and workshops. His work often revolves around large-scale, collaborative performances that develop from extensive research into music history and instrumentation, while exploring new methods of production.
Born in 1980 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Lives and works in Paris.
Using custom-built electronic instruments and computers, Atoui references current social and political realities, revealing music and new technologies as powerful aspects of expression and identity. Education and social connection are integral aspects of Atoui’s practice.
He has exhibited at numerous major institutions such as MUDAM, Luxembourg (2022); Fondation Serralves, Porto (2022); The Contemporary Austin, Texas (2022); the FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2022); the
Fridericianum, Kassel (2020); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2020); NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (2018); Fondation Serralves, Porto (2018); Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels (2017); Bergen Assembly (2016); Tate Modern, London (2016); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2015); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2014 and 2015).