Solo exhibition

Tarek Atoui

Standing Waves
29. 02. 2024—02. 06. 2024
Parterre Gallery
Tarek Atoui
Photo © Blaž Gutman / MGML; Tarek Atoui

Curated by Mara Anjoli Vujić

The exhibition Standing Waves offers a comprehensive insight into the artistic practice of Beirut-born, Paris-based sound artist and electroacoustic composer Tarek Atoui. His multilayered sound works integrate years of research on the history of music and instruments, reveal important social and political issues through diverse approaches, and present music and new technologies as crucial aspects of expression. His installations and participatory performances explore how we listen to, feel, and produce sound, and his practice in the gallery context allows him to experiment with duration by allowing the composition to unfold in a given space over an extended period of time. He explores and develops the possibilities of tactile, physical, visual, and gestural perception of sound in collaboration with numerous sound artists, composers, researchers, and instrument makers. Atoui’s artistic practice is characterised by collecting field recordings from intentionally chosen geographical locations, generating electronic and synthetic sounds, and creating custom software as well as complex and inventive instruments. Crucial to all this is the emphasis on the collective aspect of his activities, be it curated interventions and participatory performances carried out in collaboration with professionals and the broader public, or the facilitation of workshops for different communities.

The current exhibition unites individual works from three projects, namely The Wave, WITHIN and The Whisperers. The centrepiece is his experimental composition The Wave, which is layered with sounds recorded at the ports of Abu Dhabi, Athens, and Singapore, joined by nine instruments developed for the WITHIN project and for some of Atoui’s earlier works. These instruments are animated by objects and their sounds, while metal and stone elements act as conductors of sound from the harbours. The piece is connected to five listening devices from The Whisperers project, which reproduce and amplify sound in a multisensory way and were developed in 2021, when the artist created a new series of The Whisperers inspired by workshops conducted with a group of preschool children. The exhibition is anchored by a new version of the work 33 Soft Cells from the WITHIN project, a set of instruments designed as a result of a workshop conducted with deaf and hard of hearing people, in which the artist investigates how deafness can change our understanding of sound performance, its diffusion in space, and its instruments.

It is important to note that all these projects have been developed over an extended period of time and are not a finite body of work. Reflecting the accumulation of knowledge and experience gained from different collaborative contexts, elements from individual projects are repeatedly used as the basis for new experimentation and support his pursuit of new spaces for expanding ways of hearing.

The exhibition Standing Waves consists of a number of handmade instruments, which are simultaneously objects and aural sculptures. In addition to the spatial installation, the exhibition offers the experience of listening to an ever-changing composition, or a kind of outlandish concert, while its setting opens up the possibility of listening to the piece either dynamically or statically. The generated sound environment is a delicate, ever-changing microcosm, imbued with a sumptuous array of sonic textures triggered by a variety of materials, from stone and water to metal and wood. When creating his sculptures the artist starts from a reflection on the acquisition or emission of sound via the organic materials used, while incorporating electronic elements as a tool to explore the qualities of these materials, their acoustics, resonances, and sonic behaviour. Even the title of the exhibition, Standing Waves, sums up the character of the works presented, as it defines a physical phenomenon first described by Faraday when he observed standing waves on the surface of a liquid in a vibrating container, while the term itself was coined by Franz Melde, who illustrated the phenomenon in an experiment with vibrating strings.

Atoui’s spatial sound installations operate as seamless sonic environments in which space, architecture, instruments, and our bodies are at once receivers and conductors, forging compositions made up of fragments of soundscapes.

Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00–19.00


Admission free

Press kit
Tarek Atoui: Stoječe valovanje | Standing Waves

Supported by: City of Ljubljana, Institut français de Slovénie

Works Totem #2 (The Whisperers) and The Disharmonica, The Duofluctus, Horns of Putin, The Lithophone, The Limaçon, The Piezothing, and The Rotator are Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.