Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Once Removed, 2019, Filmstill | Courtesy the artist

Lawrence Abu Hamdan

The artwork Once Removed by Lawrence Abu Hamdan was part of the exhibition Tell me about yesterday tomorrow (Nov. 28, 2019 until Oct. 18, 2020).

About the artist

In his audiovisual installations and performances, Lawrence Abu Hamdan (born in Amman in 1985) explores acoustic phenomena and the notion of listening as a political practice. Traces of government violence inscribed in memory, sound, and language act as a point of departure for precise analyses, which he then translates into complex video installations. In addition to being showcased as part of exhibits, his works have supported legal investigations in several cases. He has also worked with the Forensic Architecture research group, advising organizations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International.

Once Removed, 2019

Multichannel video, 30 min

Once Removed tells the story of a young writer and historian named Bassel Abi Chahine, who believes he is the reincarnation of a soldier killed in the Lebanese civil war (1975–90). In this video, Abu Hamdan interviews the 31-year-old historian, asking him about his research into his past life and the stories of the war associated with it. Details of the conflicts in Lebanon are typically kept sealed in the interest of national security. Reincarnation, a key tenet of the Druze community to which Abi Chahine belongs, brought him into contact with veterans who recognized him as their fallen comrade. His faith produced a space which made it possible for them to share their memories and materials with him. This allowed the young historian to compile an extensive archive of rare photographs, texts, and objects that paint a vivid picture of the reality of the war. Through the lens of Abi Chahine’s unusual connection with this suppressed episode of Lebanese history, Once Removed offers a new perspective on Lebanon’s civil war and opens up a discussion about which views of history are supported by historical documents.

Installation at the Munich Documentation Center, 2019 | Photo: Connolly Weber Photography

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Once Removed, 2019, film still | Courtesy the artist