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Critique: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme at the List Visual Arts Center

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme's exhibition 'Only sounds that tremble through us' at the MIT List Visual Arts Center encapsulates a daring interrogation of memory, resilience, and collectivity through an impressive synthesis of found and created media.

This exhibit not only stands as a testament to the artists' innovative approach to multimedia art but also underscores the List Visual Arts Center's role as a crucible for avant-garde and thought-provoking exhibitions.

Exhibition Details:

Hayden Gallery

Only sounds that tremble through us

April 4 - July 28, 2024

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme at the List Visual Arts Center

Innovative Media Synthesis

The artists' exhibition, stemming from their decade-long project "May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth," explores the integration of video, sound, and digital art in a manner that challenges traditional perceptions of archival practices.

Their work, particularly the three-channel video installation "Only sounds that tremble through us," represents a forward-thinking execution of how digital archives can serve not merely as repositories but as active frameworks for cultural and communal reflection and expression.

This installation, which debuted at the Museum of Modern Art in 2022, uses everyday communal songs and dances from the Arab world, sourced from social media, and reinterprets these through live improvisations by dancers and musicians. This approach not only revitalizes archival material but also reinforces it as a living, breathing echo of communal resilience.

A Dialogic Encounter with Technology

Abbas and Abou-Rahme's use of digital avatars and masks in their work raises compelling questions about identity, visibility, and the politics of representation in the digital age. The use of unnatural and inverted colors challenges the limits of visible spectra and our perceptual boundaries, suggesting a deeper commentary on the unseen or overlooked aspects of cultural memory and identity.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme at the List Visual Arts Center

These elements, combined with the artists' deliberate inclusion of gaps and glitches, critique the seamless narratives often constructed by mainstream media and digital culture, advocating instead for a more fragmented, truthful representation of historical and personal narratives.

List Visual Arts Center as a Vanguard Venue

The List Visual Arts Center proves its mettle as a forward-thinking institution by hosting this exhibition. The center’s commitment to showcasing innovative and challenging works, as demonstrated by this exhibition, situates it as a crucial space for the exploration of how art intersects with technology and society. The center's support for projects that necessitate long-term research and deep engagement with complex themes exemplifies its role in advancing contemporary art discourse.

Final Thoughts

The collaborative works of Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme are a profound reminder of the power of contemporary art to question and reshape our understanding of communal and historical narratives.

Their exhibition at the List Visual Arts Center not only reflects the artists' mastery in blending various media but also the center’s foresight in cultivating an environment where such pioneering art can thrive. This exhibition is a pivotal moment for both the artists and the List Visual Arts Center, marking them as indispensable voices and venues in the contemporary art world.


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