PRESS RELEASE: Towner adds moving image work by Lawrence Abu Hamdan to its collection through Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund

Posted on 5/10/2018

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, This whole time there were no land mines, 2017. 1:1 video loops on monitors with sound (in 8 parts) dimensions variable. Exhibition view at Maureen Paley, London (2017). Image courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne has added a new work to its collection through Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s This whole time there were no landmines (2017) is the latest addition to the gallery’s growing collection of artists’ moving image works made possible through the scheme, which helps galleries and museums build their collections of artists’ films to share with the nation.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b. 1985, Amman, Jordan) is a Beruit-based artist and ‘private ear’ whose projects have taken the form of audiovisual installations, performances, graphic works, photography, Islamic sermons, cassette tape compositions, essays, and lectures. He is currently presenting an immersive video installation and site-specific performance at Tate, London, and has a solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London, both of which contribute to a body of work derived from the artist’s 2016 investigation of the Saydnaya prison in Syria.

This whole time there were no landmines (2017) is an 8-monitor installation with sound. It uses collected cell-phone-video footage from 2011 to document a “shouting valley” in the contested area of the Golan Heights. This stretch of land became annexed by Israel from Syria following a ceasefire in 1967 and is dubbed ‘the shouting valley’ due to the fact that topography allows for an acoustic leak across the border. Subsequently, separated families have gathered on either side of the border in order to shout across at each other. On 15th May 2011 protesters from all over the country had gathered on the Syrian side of the shouting valley for the anniversary of the Nakba (the 1948 Palestinian exodus, when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine War), yet unlike the usual gatherings this time the voice was not the only thing to cross the border. 150 Palestinian protesters from Syria unexpectedly broke into Israeli territory. For the first time since 1967 the border was breached. Four protesters were later killed by Israeli soldiers yet the majority managed to exercise, even if briefly, their right of return.  

Hamdan’s background as a touring musician led him to develop a deep interest in sound and its intersection with politics, which has come to share his practice. His audio investigations have been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. The artist is affiliated with the Forensic Architecture department at Goldsmiths College London where he received his PhD in 2017. Abu Hamdan is the author of the artist book [inaudible]: A Politics of Listening in 4 Acts. Recent solo exhibitions include Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Portikus, Frankfurt (2016); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2014) and The Showroom, London (2012).

Speaking about the acquisitions, Towner’s Head of Exhibitions Brian Cass said:

“We are delighted to have this major installation in our public collection and we would like to thank the Art Fund, Thomas Dane Gallery, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and his gallery, Maureen Paley, for supporting this acquisition. The Moving Image Fund has enabled Towner to work with different artists and ambitiously develop our collection so that it facilitates dialogue about art, ideas and society, and reflects the growing importance of film and video for artists to address contemporary political concerns.’

Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund said:

“We are proud to support Towner Art Gallery as it acquires Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s poignant film about one of the greatest socio-political conflicts in modern times. Even in the face of significant funding cuts by Eastbourne Borough Council, Towner ambitiously continues to extend what has become one of the foremost collections of moving image works in the country, championing this medium to visitors to Eastbourne and beyond.”

Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund is the first scheme of its kind in the UK, aiming to ensure that the most significant works of contemporary film and video art are able to join public collections.  In 2015, Towner was selected, along with The Whitworth, Manchester, for the pilot scheme of the Moving Image Fund which provided £200,000 for the two organisations over two years to help develop their moving image collections. The Fund is generously supported by Thomas Dane Gallery, The Rothschild Foundation, the Sfumato Foundation, Gerry Fox and the Edwin Fox Foundation together with the galleries who support Art Fund’s Contemporary Fund including, Hauser & Wirth, Maureen Paley, Nicholas Logsdail and the Lisson Gallery, Sadie Coles, Victoria Miro and White Cube.

In November 2017, it was announced that both The Hunterian in Glasgow and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery would join Towner and The Whitworth as part of the scheme for 2017-2019, along with a new partnership with Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) to enable all four participating museums to commission new moving image works.

ENDS

For further information, images and interview requests please contact Towner’s Head of Marketing Emma Haggerty on emma.haggerty@townereastbourne.org.uk or +44(0)1323 434681

Notes To Editors

About Towner Art Gallery

Towner Art Gallery presents exhibitions of national and international importance to audiences across the UK and beyond. Showcasing the most exciting developments in modern and contemporary art, Towner develops and supports artistic practice, and provides a place for experiencing, creating and discussing art and culture. The gallery welcomes over 150,000 visitors a year and collaborates with individuals, communities and organisations to deliver an inclusive and accessible associated public programme and learning offer. Their acclaimed Collection of 5000 works is best known for its modern British art – including the largest and most significant body of work by Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) – and a growing collection of international contemporary art. In 2014, Towner became an independent charitable Trust, supported by a Board of Trustees, chaired by David Dimbleby. Towner is supported by Eastbourne Borough Council and Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Programme. townereastbourne.org.uk

About the Moving Image Fund 

Launched in 2015, the Moving Image Fund is a scheme conceived by the Art Fund in partnership with Thomas Dane Gallery to respond to the challenges faced by UK museums in building their collections of moving image works. As artists’ use of digital media, video and film continues to increase, so does the desire of museums and galleries to reflect this growing body of work in their collections and to share it with the public. In the current climate, museums and galleries struggle to raise funds for new acquisitions of any kind, of which artists’ film and video pose an even greater challenge as they are expensive to produce and technically complex to exhibit. The Moving Image Fund addresses this growing need by empowering museums to secure impactful and relevant works

 About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 139,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 320 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by the The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017) and a range of digital platforms.

Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at artfund.org

Film and Video Umbrella 

Film and Video Umbrella commissions, curates, produces and presents artists’ moving-image works that are staged in collaboration with galleries and other cultural partners. Since the late 1980s, FVU has been at the forefront of this vibrant and expanding area of practice, promoting innovation through its support of some of the most exciting figures on the contemporary scene. During this time, the organisation has commissioned and produced nearly 200 different artists’ projects, ranging from ambitious multi-screen installations to shorter film and video pieces, as well as numerous online commissions. fvu.co.uk