10

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a contemporary artist from Jordan who is currently based in Beirut. His work is concerned with the relationship between listening, politics, human rights, testimony and truth. Bird Watching is the latest in a series of Abu Hamdan’s live audio essays that examine the contemporary politics of listening and the importance of the ear witness. The central focus of this ‘hearing’ is his collaboration with Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture on an acoustic investigation into Saydnaya prison, 25 km north of Damascus. The prison is inaccessible to independent observers and monitors. The memory of those who survive it is the only resource available from which to learn of and document the violations still taking place there. The capacity of detainees to see anything in Saydnaya was highly restricted as they were mostly kept in darkness, blindfolded. As a result, the prisoners developed an acute sensitivity to sound. Through dedicated and new techniques of ear witness interviews created by Abu Hamdan, the witnesses reconstruct the architecture and events of the prison they experienced through sound.