Sumac Space

Dialogues Exhibitions About Artists' rooms

Longing for Community

24.01.2022 - 29.03.2022

Curated by

Aline Lenzhofer

How do we come together? What communities do we form? The exhibition points to the difficulties of coming together and shows how artists and collectives face this challenge and experiment with new forms of exchange in public or virtual space. Various projects address commonalities despite geographical distance, linguistic and cultural differences as well as dissonances.

Due to the rise of the Covid pandemic, physical encounters and moments of togetherness became difficult and were even considered a threat for each other’s well-being. As humans, however, we always long for social contact, exchange, and community following the urge to learn, develop, understand, and be understood on an emotional, intellectual, and experimental level.

The participating artists found ways to connect with each other, their audience, the public, participants and strangers, creating sounds of togetherness that are presented in this online exhibition. Whether it is an invitation to drink tea together, a search for a common non-verbal language, or a reflection on the complexity of a language and its dialects when it comes to collective activities, the artworks tackle different approaches to togetherness in a time when community is being called into question.

Certain sounds of togetherness can be found in Engy Mohsen and Soukaina Joual’s joint project “Machy, mashi: A h(ij)acked Tongue” (2022). While the artists—both part of the collective K-oh-llective—have over the past years repeatedly exchanged ideas online in chat rooms, collaborated at a distance, and communicated in their common mother tongue, Arabic, they developed a project revolving around the linguistic specifications of the Arabic language, which is often presented homogeneously in the European context. Driven by a shared interest in trap and rap music from North Africa, they trace the differences in their mother tongue(s)—Moroccan Darija and Egyptian Aamiyya—to a better understanding of each other’s dialects and examine different terms for collective activities.

DJ and artist Seba Kayan usually works with sounds that she collects, creates, resamples, rearranges, reinterprets, redefines, and remixes. Her project “Genesis of a Soundteller” brings together those who are passionate about techno and those familiar with the Anatolian sounds. On a dance floor, she usually gives both groups the possibility to meet, dance, and learn from each other. Here, she shares her collection of sounds inspired by her Kurdish-Anatolian heritage, uses songs by musical storytellers called dengbejis and introduces them to the world of techno.

The wish for exchange and collective action prompted Nourhan Maayouf to conceive the performative action “Tea for Two” (2021)—at a time when Switzerland, her current place of residence, was under lockdown. She invited strangers in public space to share a cup of tea. She sought to interact with those that she did not know before, to talk with new acquaintances, and share a hot beverage. As in other works from hers, food and drinks played an essential role in creating moments of exchange and togetherness. Following her performance, she wrote down her experiences in a diary. In five chapters she reflects on the role of drinking tea—in Egypt and elsewhere—and its social relevance.

While Nourhan Maayouf’s work focuses on action-based communication, Fanni Futterknecht dives into language-based communication in an attempt to find a way to use a common language without words. In her work “Power to the Unspoken” (2021)—a scribble protest, she demonstrates that exchange or joint action do not necessarily require words. The artist raises the questions: Is it still possible to communicate when language dissolves? What forms of communication can be created without language? The collective act of public rebellion, manifested in actions of protest marches in public space as well as performances in the exhibition context, was thus staged and transformed into a poetic gesture of collective wordlessness.

The ways in which artists long for community and their sounds of togetherness are presented in this online exhibition and expanded on billboards on the outside walls of the Viennese club FLUC which has been closed for several months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

_Aline Lenzhofer

The exhibition takes place as part of a cooperation with philomena+, Vienna, Austria.

Aline Lenzhofer is a cultural worker and curator with a focus on collaborative practices, socio-political issues, and artistic forms of the WANA region. With a background in cultural and social anthropology and a degree in applied cultural studies, Aline Lenzhofer has worked with various art spaces such as Institut d’art contemporain de Villeurbanne (Lyon), Kulte Center for Contemporary Art (Rabat), the Austrian Cultural Forum (Cairo) and das weisse haus (Vienna). Currently, she works as co-curator of the visual arts program at philomena+ and as a freelance cultural worker in Vienna.


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