East Contemporary

Portikus: Hajra Waheed “Hum”

Frankfurt am Main, July 7 – September 6, 2020, https://www.portikus.de

Hajra Waheed´s installation in Portikus consists of an empty room with a white carpet, where all visitors are required to take their shoes off. From above an array of speakers is suspended in the space. A mellow soundtrack of humming voices is played back. The exhibition leaflet explains that what is being hummed here are songs by performers and poets from Middle Eastern countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Egypt, etc. What is common to them is that they have all been at some point prosecuted for their political opinion, which they expressed in their songs.

The story accompanying the artwork is clear and moving, the space is well designed and relaxing, the sound production perfect, leading to a smooth and pleasant experience. The question that I have, is whether or not it is a good thing that the visitors have a pleasant experience reminiscent of a dance party chill out room, when the topic is the political prosecution and imprisonment of these poor artists. This is feel-good-art for a first world audience. How one judges it is a question of taste and art consumption expectations.

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