Cacophonous noise greets you at this international group show, held in Tate Modern’s project space. Documentary and poetry play the biggest role. An endlessly repeated short poem by French-Norwegian poet Caroline Bergvall is a mission statement of sorts for an exhibition that examines the endless potential for power in words and sounds.
Indian artist Amar Kanwar’s touching film ‘A Night of Prophecy’ (2002) looks at activists across his home country and their music and poetry made in the fight against oppression and injustice. Newly commissioned films, ‘KEST (Keep Evens Safe Today)’ and ‘Arise’, by Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, explore the lives of two groups of men in London and New Delhi. Continents and worlds apart, they are united by an empowering love of hip-hop music and dance.
These films are moving, the stories being told affecting, but London-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s two works have the most lasting impact. His audio piece ‘The Whole Truth’ (2012) places you in front of a mirror to listen, via headphones, to voices detailing the process of lie detecting. Confronted with your own image, you’re implicated uncomfortably in this powerful work. ‘Conflicted Phonemes’ (2012) is worth the visit on its own. Plastered across the wall are the applications of a handful of Somalian asylum seekers. ‘Rejected, rejected, accepted, rejected…’ they read. These results are based on the technological analysis of accents, which is used to determine claims for asylum. Nearby, wall charts reveal the visual breakdown of a human voice. It’s a beautifully presented, distinctly political, unsettling – and silent – exploration of how words can determine your fate.