The Silence is Still Talking

Solo exhibition by Muhannad Shono

Please join us for the opening of Muhannad Shono’s second solo exhibition at Athr Gallery, June 9th and which will run as a collateral exhibition to 21,39’s  summer edition. Curated by Rahul Gudipudi, The Silence Is Still Talking explores ‘the word’ and its emergence.

In shifting states of narrative inquiry, Shono’s work investigates our innate tendency of being a species driven by stories and myths. Currently living and working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the artist developed this new body of work in pigment, paper, sculpture, sound and film are fictional studies that revisit history, myth-making and tradition through the creation of alternate worlds in rhythmic states of pause, drawing us to confront fundamental questions that construct our present and future worlds.

Through The Silence Is Still Talking, we journey with Shono into a study of two fundamental building blocks of ‘the word’ : pigment and vibration , as he persuades us to suspend the act of utterance to reflect on the corruption of the word, and the possibility for words to become restrictive, divisive, hardened, literal and unimaginative. He extends his practice of pigment on paper, grinds hardened charcoal words to dust and employs vibrations from inaudible spectrums of sound to manifest reformed pigment ‘words’ on paper that are more felt than merely heard.

These specs of black pigment are the nuance, context and depth of meaning that accompany each word as it reemerges. Black dust and flakes that bring matter and meaning together, and with each spec and its many probabilities of location and orientation of specs of pigment representing the infinite possibilities of meaning, like states and also similar to accents in language that accompany alphabets and morph sounds and meaning with their location. These possibilities embody the spirit of each word as opposed to the letters of the word, to be nurtured in their limitless arrangements of meaning. This use of vibrations to create the works, withdraw control and the notion of lone authorship away from the human hand. It celebrates the externality of the origin of the word and propels us to consider the mind and the self as bodies that highlight, expose, interpret, transfer and preserve the spirit of the word.

The exhibition explores the infinite layers of meaning encoded in words and how they shape our experience of knowledge and understanding. Our relationship with the Earth being defined and formed with the words we choose to describe and traverse it. The process with which we arrive at the word, becomes the means through which we meditate on its use and exert ourselves towards constant cycles of learning and unlearning as practice. Shono’s artworks guide us to move away from literality and away from the adoration of textuality. The exhibition seeks to move us from outcomes of misuse and misunderstanding towards the birth of a deeper understanding of the word, ourselves, others and the Earth.

The names of all things a live-installation with charcoal dust and sound on paper, ignites our journey into the origins of the word with pigment and frequencies as source. The vibrations of the pigment mark the paper and create a shifting source of infinite possibilities of meaning. All other works are derived from this recurring process and form. Al Amal is a film on show at the beginning of the exhibition that documents the journey of the artist to inspect and reform the word. Our Inheritance of Meaning, charcoal print on tape, sees Shono use a familiar device in strips of tape as print making bodies that speak analogous to the transference with which we pass on our learnings from one generation to the next, and the underlying decay embedded in such inheritances. A black tape and pigment work, The Lost Words embodies the collective knowledge lost when we choose to foreground certain narratives and sources of knowledge and learning while redacting, censoring, hiding or forgetting others.

Extract, Imprint and Transfer are three in a series of unique process-based works of study in pigment, tape and paper. The First and Last Word encompass the journey of our relationship with the word in language, in one lifetime and the lifetime of the species. While Reform a large charcoal pigment and ink on paper work heralds the emergence of new words and symbolic elements, that as they emerge continue to pay tribute to the nuance, metaphor and context that surround them. These inform, the hand carved unique sculptural Ideographs, neo-forms in charcoal that signal, hold and preserve the lateral weight of words and letters in our contemplative practice of the word. A conjoined triad of pigment on paper scrolls form The Silent Press installation, the largest work in the show that refers to the spoken silences of animate and inanimate practitioners of the free word that await patiently to be experienced.