Haroon Mirza

Haroon Mirza

Le Grand Café—Contemporary Art Centre

Haroon Mirza, Shelf for Carl Cox, 2013. Mixed media. Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery, London. © All rights reserved.

January 31, 2014

Haroon Mirza
Random Access Recall
1 February–4 May 2014

Le Grand Café, Contemporary 
Art Centre, Saint-Nazaire
Place des Quatre z’horloges
44 600 Saint-Nazaire
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 2–7pm, 
Wednesday 11am–7pm
Free entry 
grand_cafe [​at​] mairie-saintnazaire.fr


The leitmotif running through Haroon Mirza’s work is the revelation of the world’s latent sonic potential and the clarification of its reading, deployed in composite installations as sculpted spacial soundscapes. Drawing on the sociologist Marshall McLuhan’s theories of communication and his writings on acoustic space, the artist contests the privilege accorded to visual space over sound material as the dominant principle of perception.

This universe of intermingled temporal layers is populated by numerous accessories: worn-out everyday objects being used to produce image and sound, retro furniture, dissected analogue instruments; but also YouTube videos, blinding LEDs, and electronic equipment. 

The elements are often repurposed: Haroon Mirza examines them, associates them, and liberates new functionalities. From his studies in design at Goldsmiths College in London he has retained a specific approach to the ‘prototype’ and has developed a critical sense regarding the correspondence between an object’s form and function. His sculptures develop out of mechanical structures generating aesthetic, visual, and sonic compositions that border on improvisation. 

He particularly appears to track the moments of perceptual change, the slipping from hearing to listening where sound becomes music, interference and loops—visual and sonic—recur frequently in the works, as if increasing the tension within spaces or amplified sounds; the meeting of searingimages and singular objects form a synaesthetic whole with a powerful physical impact.

The artist also increasingly shows particular attention to architecture as a space of resonance, and as appropriate for proposing sense-experiments. The installation presented during the 54th Venice Biennale, The National Apavilion of Then and Now (2011), was a notable example, placing the visitor in a darkened soundproof space filled by a piercing, monotone and rhythmic electronic tone. 

In 2012, the Grand Café presented one of the artist’s videos, Adhãn (2009), an Arabic title designating the call to prayer. Here, Haroon Mirza interrogates the role music plays in particular cultural and religious contexts. Having grown up in a non-Western culture, the artist explains that it was natural for him to look towards Islam in his reflection on the conditions of the cultural reception of sound. For this new exhibition, he continues his consideration of the production and reception of “sounds that make images” in very diverse cultural contexts: The Calling (2013/14), an installation and performance initiated at the Atelier Calder, will be further developed in Saint-Nazaire—Haroon Mirza continuing his study of the intangible but effective mechanisms hidden within some sound material, such as the call of the muezzin. 

The study of autonomous and spatial sound is also at the heart of the other immersive installation presented in the exhibition: Pavilion for Optimisation (2013), which follows on from the Venice Biennale research. Architecture within architecture, a reverberation chamber offers an intense experience, closely articulating the visible and the audible to the point of sensorial disturbance. 

A new work by the artist, Access Boot (2014), alludes to Saint-Nazaire’s military history, and to the past of the site itself as a café with a reception and dance rooms. Always attentive to the particular texture of a context, Haroon Mirza occupies this ‘found architecture’ and multiplies the references. The work is loaded with an undeniable political conscience, and reads like a vast sensory equation, shedding light on the specificities of the place.

Curator: Sophie Legrandjacques, director of Le Grand Café – Contemporary Art Centre
Press contact: Alexandra Servel, servela [​at​] mairie-saintnazaire.fr / T + 33 2 44 73 44 05
Text: Eva Prouteau


Haroon Mirza at Le Grand Café Contemporary Art Centre, Saint-Nazaire
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Le Grand Café—Contemporary Art Centre
January 31, 2014

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