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Delfina Foundation Announces 14 Proper Nouns With Hassan Khan and Nida Ghouse

4 Proper Nouns draws on a set of references from Hassan Khan’s seminal work 17 and in AUC (2003). Every night, starting from 21 October 2011 and running till 3 November, one reference or ‘proper noun’ will serve as subject matter for a discussion between the artist and Nida Ghouse.

Hassan Khan, “17 and in AUC” 2003, performance shot. Photo by Graham Waite, courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel.

For 17 and in AUC, Khan constructed a soundproofed one-way mirrored room in which he sat for four hours every night over two consecutive weeks. While drinking beer and smoking cigarettes he spoke to an audience he could neither see nor hear about his teenage years in the early nineties at the American University in Cairo.

17 and in AUC – the transcriptions is a document published the following year of every audible word uttered by Khan during those 56 hours. The resulting text is a heady history of delirium in which words run on without commas or full stops. On the cover, Khan writes that “the decision to keep the unpunctuated flow of the spoken word was dictated by the interest of maintaining the rhythms and enigmas of a consciousness on the brink.” With no account of intonation, this printed matter, this stuff of memory, insists on an investment from the reader who must then make up its rhythm in order to construct its sense.

Through the blur of this unpunctuated flow of letters, the uppercase appears, either for the first person pronoun ‘I’ or for proper nouns—a street, a bar, a song, a drug, a film, a filmmaker, a friend… a university department, a television icon, an avant-garde writer, a collaborative artwork—the list goes on. These capitalised words are significant, not just as elements that may have had some influence on him, but also, as symptoms of a landscape he says he was “part of, belonged to, and drank from.” As source materials they suggest perspectives with which to address and situate an artistic practice as restless as Khan’s.

A few lines of computer code were written to extract all the proper nouns from the transcriptions. 14 have been selected. The discussions at The Delfina Foundation will take these as starting points, and will each night focus on a different one. In approaching the transcriptions as a repository of memory, this series of events presents a structure to understand the artist’s early beginnings. Many of these references have persisted in their importance and are relevant to him and his work even now. 14 Proper Nouns thus also delves into various aspects of Khan’s practice, samples of which will surface through the course of this two-week process. These will include rarely seen early and incomplete works as well as other material such as notes, images, books, sketches, cassettes of recorded music.

The programme for the ‘proper nouns’ is as follows:

Friday 21 October Funhouse
a year in the house of bliss and loss

Saturday 22 October Yassin El Tohamy
the munshid who made philosophical poetry as popular as coca-cola

Sunday 23 October Egyptian TV
strategies learnt from the world’s worst television

Monday 24 October Pulmolar
a cough syrup that bent streets and made asphalt soft

Tuesday 25 October John Cage
the tapes that came after reading silence

Wednesday 26 October Attar
daily breakdowns at the theater workshop

Thursday 27 October Midan Ramsis
paranoia and ecstasy with the crowd

Friday 28 October Hendrix
a guitar becomes something else

Saturday 29 October JC Auditorium
auteur cinema and the incredible power of the living moving face

Sunday 30 October William Blake
how hell was made dense

Monday 31 October Ard El Golf
making noise in bedrooms and on rooftops

Tuesday 1 November Sherif
a friendship forged through a shifting lens

Wednesday 2 November Cairo Atelier
the haunt of the corrupt intellectual

Thursday 3 November English Literature
a university department with a seminar room

To reserve a place, please email [email protected]. Attendance is strictly by RSVP.

The events are part of a project by Nida Ghouse who is currently in residence at The Delfina Foundation on a research fellowship with FICA (Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art), Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), and Goldsmith’s Curatorial/Knowledge programme.

The Delfina Foundation facilitates artistic exchanges and dialogue between the UK and the Middle East & North Africa via a programme of artistic residencies and related public events. Our public programme (including talks & exhibitions) provides platforms for artists to explore common areas of practice, showcase their work and look at the link between the arts and civic society.

The Delfina Foundation
29 Catherine Place
London SW1E 6DY

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