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Sammy Baloji

Overcoming Modernity
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A conversation between Sammy Baloji and Rolando Vázquez Melken on world exhibitions and the politics of cultural representation and appropriation through contemporary artistic and architectural interventions.
Overcoming Modernity

Jorge Otero-Pailos

A Library of Earthen Architectures
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BE
Jorge Otero-Pailos collaborates with Saudi artists and heritage experts in charge of Saudi World Heritage sites to create a Library of Earthen Architectures, which includes artefacts representative of Saudi cultural memory.
A Library of Earthen Architectures

Hussein Nassereddine

Hanging notes on “Laughing on the River”
BE
I choose here, dear ones, to comment on the texts that have become laughter on the river, from that time a poet recalled his loneliness in the open desert and its long night, to my friends in the river near our village, as we jump from the high rocks––plunging headfirst into the water, then the years take us, and we enter time. 
Hanging notes on “Laughing on the River”

Martha Atienza, Jake Atienza

Equation of State
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Martha Atienza’s ‘Equation of State III’ is part of a series that examines climate change and asks the viewer to question environmental management and socioeconomic development. The installation is an entry point to community-based archival work on Bantayan Island in central Philippines from which it emerges.
Equation of State

Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise

Plantations, Museums, and Regenerative Ecologies
com
The work presented is a radical act of digital restitution. CATPC reclaims a piece of their heritage by using funds gained from NFTs (non-fungible tokens) such as Balot NFT, minted in 2022 and depicting the angry spirit of Belgian colonial officer Maximilien Balot (1890–1931). A series of short videos share the journey of collective members as they speak to elders, art historians, and academics about the possibility of restitution and the future use of blockchain technology toward regenerative forest ecologies.

Liam Young

The Great Endeavor
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Speculative architect and filmmaker Liam Young reflects on The Great Endeavor, a 2023 work that depicts a planetary carbon removal and storage industry emerging in the near future as part of the solution to the climate crisis.
The Great Endeavor

Anne Holtrop

From Geology to Glass
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Anne Holtrop Studio presents part of the research behind Glass to Stone, with a focus on the transitions from geology to glass, to glass waste and new glass production.
From Geology to Glass

Paulo Tavares

An Architectural Botany
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Paulo Tavares writes about what can happen when we recognise that a quintessentially natural or wild space—as defined by the hegemonic epistemic frameworks of colonial modernity—is in reality a cultural, socially produced artefact and how architectural practice and research can learn from a botanic archaeology, its methods and epistemic shifts. The essay is an excerpt of “Architectural Botany: A Conversation with William Balée on Constructed Forests,” the eighth chapter of Environmental Histories of Architecture, an open-access book published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
An Architectural Botany

Tarek Atoui

The Hive: On Vibration and Resonance
BE
In this video workshop, Tarek Atoui invites children to explore music-making through playing with toys and instruments.
The Hive: On Vibration and Resonance

Rasha Al-Duwaisan

Buckets and Waterskins
BE
In this poetic reflection, Rasha Al-Duwaisan expands on Buckets and Waterskins, which was presented in March 2024 as part of the Biennale Encounters program of the Diriyah Contemporary Arts Biennale.
Buckets and Waterskins

NIDHI MAHAJAN & MOAD MUSBAHI

An Excerpt from Kitab Al Marasi: A Composite Navigational Manual for the Indian Ocean
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A composite navigational manual for the Indian Ocean that draws from the historical cultural practices of local sailors to confront the uncertain future of coastal communities across the Indian Ocean facing extreme climate degradation. The work creates a repository of Indigenous maritime knowledge that firmly ties the risk of climate change with vernacular forms of knowledge.

Anca Rujoiu, Priyageetha Dia

Forget Me, Forget Me Not
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Amid the sea of information and data prone to racialized terminology, what are the possibilities for an artistic engagement to eschew or hijack the perpetuation of violence? Anca Rujoiu writes about Priyageetha Dia's *Forget Me, Forget Me Not.*
Forget Me, Forget Me Not

Mariah Lookman

Poets have forgotten the words for love
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BE
A digital version of Mariah Lookman's sound walk, which gathers stories along spice routes in Saudi Arabia. The artist’s poetic narration is inspired by the stories of healers and merchants at the souks, and those of mothers and grandmothers. Storytelling becomes a method of recuperating a knowledge of plants that is passed on orally from one generation to the next. The work is an embodied and holistic experience of cross-cultural encounters and vernacular knowledge that has endured over distance and time.
Poets have forgotten the words for love

Taus Makhacheva

Archival Footage: Behind Charivari
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Taus Makhacheva shares archival films that were collected and compiled from her research on the Soviet circus tradition.
Archival Footage: Behind Charivari

Feifei Zhou

Before there was land, there were mangroves
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Zhou’s commission is a long-term, collaborative research undertaking that investigates coastal land reclamation across the globe. Filled by hard material such as rocks and cement, reclaimed land eliminates porosity and results in more severe flooding and biodiversity degradation. In contrast, mangrove forests, such as those in the Indian Ocean, nurture a rich range of sea and land creatures including fish, crabs, birds, and shrimp. Their salt-tolerant trunks and roots also create a porous environment and natural barrier against floods and tides. Preserving mangroves are some of the most pressing battles for coastal communities around the world.

Tara Aldughaither & Joe Namy

Rhythms of the Rising Sun
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Rhythms of the Rising Sun traces migratory rhythmic ecologies from West Asia, the Indian Ocean subcontinent, East Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. This collaborative research project aims to raise awareness for resonant sound pressures in the region today. It explores how lucid migratory patterns have shaped some of the most prominent rhythms, sounds, and music of these geographies, and how rhythms have in turn shaped language and ways of life.

Hiba Ismail

Two Islets
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Using an ongoing archive of sonic field recordings and images as a starting point, Ismail’s commission involves gathering extensive field recordings and images from the Red Sea and its surrounding areas, resulting in an index of recordings and photographs. Her most recent recordings took place on the Suakin Archipelago and multiple locations off the east coast of Sudan. The process of collecting audio material is an attempt to understand our relationship to the environment, drawing parallels between contemporary politics, archaeologies, and the natural histories of the earth. She consolidated the extensive catalogue of archipelago sounds into an audio composition developed in collaboration with sound designer Panos Chountoulidis.

Dana Awartani

Listen to my words
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In this selection of translated Arabic poetry interlaced with geometric symbolism, Awartani's work breathes a new life into powerful voices from the past, orchestrating an intergenerational dialogue that subtly questions the status of women in contemporary society. 
Listen to my words

Seher Shah

Notes from a City Unknown
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Cities are archives of our histories. They unfurl the historical, and connect the political to the personal across intimate passageways. We navigate the city through our kinships, languages, and constellations, which bind us in unknown and profound ways. We live with the weight and traces of those that came before us, as we guide our exterior and interior lives. Woven into us are notes and networks from inherited places, or a separation, leaving traces of a memory and a marked absence. Our names and bodies bear the weight of our failed nations, as we trace our footsteps to a sense of belonging.
Notes from a City Unknown

ROBIN MEIER WIRATUNGA

Waves Beneath an Ocean of Wet Air
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This commission juxtaposes audio recordings from the Empty Quarters in the Arabian Peninsula—sounds of singing sands, acoustic measurements of dune sediment, and foraging ants from his field work—with submarine recordings from the Indian Ocean, neuroelectric activity of the brain, AI-synthesized vocal sounds, and various other elements to create a generative, polyphonic soundscape, giving a voice to the stories of the desert and weaving a composition with sounds from oceans of varying wetness and its entangled kin.

Mohammad AlFaraj

Sketches / Whispers
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Mohammad AlFaraj shares pencil sketches, ephemeral poems, and handwritten notes from the making of *The Whispers of Today Are Heard in the Garden of Tomorrow*, a newly commissioned work showing outdoors at the JAX District as part of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale 2024.
Sketches / Whispers

Aseel AlYacoub

The Secret Lake
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In this video documentation, Aseel AlYacoub explores two sites within Riyadh's desert, commonly referred to as 'The Secret Lake'. Through the footage, the artist interweaves narration from Paul W. Harrison's "The Arab at Home" (1924), a work by an American medical missionary to Arabia.
The Secret Lake

Munem Wasif, Natasha Ginwala

Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif
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Munem Wasif and Natasha Ginwala discuss Wasif's solo exhibition Kromosho (ক্রমশ), or "step by step" in Bengali. Together, they exchange views around how the artist’s gaze has evolved, chronicling fiction and fact over time with fundamental transformations in both medium and subject. Traversing a range of recent works, Wasif attunes to unraveling vantage points, protagonists, and ambient idiosyncrasies.
Kheyal: a conversation with Munem Wasif

Jumana Emil Abboud

Gazelle in a Mother's Eye
BE
Working with collaborators Tamara Kalo and Ileana Gonzalez Pacheco, artist Jumana Emil Abboud has created an immersive study of local folktales and the experience of embedding herself in the Riyadh landscape.
Gazelle in a Mother's Eye

Migrant Ecologies Project

Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps
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BE
By probing the existing relationships between humans and birds, Migrant Ecologies collaborators explore a series of pathways through a contested zone along the former tracks of the Malaysian state railroad at Tanglin Halt, a neighborhood of Singapore that has undergone considerable social and environmental change. 

Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps

Aseel AlYacoub

Desert as Method
BE
Drawing insights from historical records, cultural narratives, and the constructed environment, Aseel AlYacoub invites workshop participants to redefine preconceived notions about the desert.
Desert as Method
Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps
  
Migrant Ecologies Project
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BE

Fragments from Railtrack Songmaps

Migrant Ecologies Project

Lucy Davis and Kee Ya Ting, 2016.
The tangled heart of Railtrack Songmaps research is an immersive, sound-rich, interactive media archive of 32 species-specific short films, found in the research section for the Diriyah Biennale. Each film develops from the song of one of 105 bird species found along the railtracks at Tanglin Halt, in chorus with human voices.

Tanglin Halt was one of the first public housing development estates in Singapore and had grown over fifty years into a close-knit residential community, adjacent to the former tracks of the Malaysian railroad in southwest Singapore. Many residents had lived in Tanglin Halt for most of their lives. However, they have recently been relocated due to a projected redevelopment and gentrification of the area which has accompanied the conversion of the tracks into a more manicured, urban park-connector. The rail tracks themselves date from the British colonial period, and for many decades the railway comprised an important economic and emotional connection between Singapore and Malaysia. An approximately five-meter slice of land on either side of the tracks, in addition to the railway itself, was owned by the Malaysian state until 2011. This strip of indeterminate governance, running through the heart of Singapore, played host to a fecundity of human and nonhuman activities, ranging from the informal to the feral.

Migrant Ecologies collaborators have explored a series of pathways through this troubled nexus of urban nature by probing the existing relationships between humans and birds along the tracks. Evolving over many years of listening to birds and developing conversations with humans, the project and its series of exhibitions, trace rich seams of interspecies communications, projections, memories, and song.

What we offer here are fragments from over a decade of sound and visual engagement with a contested zone along the former tracks of the Malaysian state railroad at Tanglin Halt, a neighborhood of Singapore that has undergone considerable social and environmental change.

Burung Tiong Besar - Common Hill Mynah
Burung Merbau - Zebra Dove
Burung Kunyit Besar - Black-Naped Oriole
Burung Enggang Kelinking - Oriental Pied-Hornbill
Burung Pekaka Dada Putih - White- Naped Kingfisher
Burung Lang Merah - Brahminy Kite
Burung Hantu Carik Kafan - Spotted Wood Owl

Malay language bird pantuns

Some of the films contain fragments from a series of poems dedicated to particular species of birds in the form of Malay pantunsPantuns are Malay poetic forms consisting of four lines of verse and alternating rhyming lines. As oral forms expression, they are sometimes performed in live competitions, in which poets try to improvise the best verses—not unlike the competitive songs of birds. For Railtrack Songmaps Singapore poet and writer Alfian Sa’at compiled and translated pantuns related to a series of bird species found around Tanglin Halt. A full list of these pantuns are found in the research gallery of the Diriyah Biennale

About the images

The bird cinematography and stop motion animation in these films have evolved from a process entitled ‘Avian Web-Re-Wild’. This involved downloading and printing online images and video frames of birds from the Nature Society’s bird count. Davis and Kee then ‘re-wilded’ these images as OHP transparent puppets in sites along the tracks where the birds were last encountered. This method was entirely dependent on the appearance of sunlight in order for an ephemeral shadow of a bird to be cast on a construction site, desire-path, leaf or tree where the bird was last seen or heard. A number of the sites had changed beyond recognition since the time of the survey. Another approach involved printing frames from online videos, cutting out thousands of forms of birds and re-animating these cut-out paper frames.

About the sound

The sound for each of these films was co-developed intuitively from interview transcripts edited by Lucy Davis and Singapore writer Cyril Wong, and interwoven by Zai Tang, with field recorded bird calls and songs that he gathered along the railtracks for this project. A selection of Zai’s recordings can also be found here.
In the films the human-bird combinations were often as much about the cadence or timbre of someone’s voice and how this evoked a particular bird call (and vice versa) as they were about the actual content of the spoken human fragments or our ornithological knowledge of the birds in question.

  • Story-tellers and voice artists: Lim Kim Seng; Alan OwYong; Shamla Jeyarajah Subaraj; Subaraj Rajathurai; Ow Yong Sue Lin; Esther Kamala & Jonathan & Chellamah; Raman bin Pabong; Jumaidah binte Shabbeer Hassan; Zulkifflee Raman; Hamwal Kaseem alias Rahim; Chua Thiam Seng; Ngo Meng Heng; Wang Luan Keng; Alfian Sa’at; Fezhah Maznan; Nabil Siregar; Ong Si Hao; Uston Lim; Tan Si Lin; Cheryl Pek Seng Yee; Kee Zhong Hern; Muhamad Zinedine Ariffin.

Migrant Ecologies Project

The Migrant Ecologies Project was founded in 2009 by artist, art writer, and academic Lucy Davis as an umbrella for informal, durational, transdisciplinary collaborations in and around art and ecology, primarily in Southeast Asia. Davis is an associate professor in Visual Cultures at Aalto University, Finland. Between 2005 and 2016, Davis was a founding member of the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Her collaborators on the project, Zachary Chan, Kee Ya Ting, and Zai Tang are artists with backgrounds, respectively, in the fields of sonic arts and graphic design, photography and video production, and sound design. In 2021 {if your bait can sing the wild one will come} Like Shadows Through Leaves was awarded the FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics Award<br /> at the 67th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
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