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The Freedom of Speech Itself – Lawrence Abu Hamdan

The Freedom Of Speech Itself (2012) was the title of Abu Hamdan’s first solo exhibition at The Showroom in London. The central work of this exhibition was a 30 minute audio documentary/ composition, The Freedom of Speech Itself, which looks at the the history and contemporary application of forensic speech analysis and voice-prints, focusing on the UK’s controversial use of voice analysis to determine the origins and authenticity of asylum seekers’ accents. Here, Testimonies from lawyers, phonetic experts, asylum seekers and Home Office officials reveal the geo-politics of accents and the practice of listening that led to shocking stories of wrongful deportations. When combined with the experimental audio composition and appropriated radiophonic techniques these interviews are designed to question the fundamental ways in which we speak and listen.

The Freedom of Speech Itself has also been exhibited as a sound installation alongside the sculptural forms of voiceprints ( voice-fingerprints) illustrating the frequency and amplitude of two different voices saying the word “you”. The cartographic technique of contours, used to map and identify the origins of phonemes, allows these sculptures to condense Abu Hamdan’s argument into a material form which binds together notions of voice and territory. The acoustically absorbent foam used in the construction of these sculptures  directly intervenes in the audio-space; acoustically shaping the room and commanding a dialogue between the sculptures and the documentary that seeks to intensify the listening experience.

For Safina Radio Project the artist contributed The Freedom of Speech Itself and The Whole Truth, two audio documentaries.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

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