The Sonic Image: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Hannah B Higgins, W.J.T. Mitchell and guests

The Sonic Image: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Hannah B Higgins, W.J.T. Mitchell and guests

University of Chicago Arts

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Earwitness Inventory: Tray Rack, 2018. Courtesy of the artist. 

February 25, 2020
The Sonic Image: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Hannah B Higgins, W.J.T. Mitchell and guests
Performance: March 3, 7pm
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
University of Chicago
915 E 60th Street
60637 Chicago IL
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Join us for an evening of performances in the Logan Center Penthouse conceived by Gray Center Fellows Lawrence Abu HamdanHannah B Higgins, and W.J.T. Mitchell; with special guests Nancy Rose Hunt, Sasha Crawford-Holland, Siting Jiang and Caleigh Stephens. The event employs a unique scenography designed to invoke strategies for seeing words and hearing speech. The performance will examine and challenge our evolving notions around the politics of listening and the voice,  enacting live what the trio of Abu Hamdan, Higgins and Mitchell term The Sonic Image

The event is free and open to the public.

Event starts at 7pm—doors open at 6:45pm, no late entry permitted after 7:10pm.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan  is a “Private Ear.” His interest with sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background as a touring musician and facilitator of DIY music. The artists audio investigations has been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International together with fellow researchers from Forensic Architecture. Abu Hamdan completed his PhD in 2017 from Goldmsiths College University of London and is currently a fellow at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. Abu Hamdan has exhibited his work at the 58th Venice Biennale, the 11th Gwanju Biennale and the 13th and 14th Sharjah Biennial, Witte De With, Rotterdam, Tate Modern Tanks, Chisenhale Gallery, Hammer Museum L.A, Portikus Frankfurt, The Showroom, London and Casco, Utrecht. His works are part of collections at MoMA, Guggenheim, Van AbbeMuseum, Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern. Abu Hamdan’s work has been awarded the 2019 Edvard Munch Art Award, the 2016 Nam June Paik Award for new media and in 2017 his film Rubber Coated Steel won the Tiger short film award at the Rotterdam International Film festival. For the 2019 Turner Prize Abu Hamdan, together with nominated artists Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani, formed a temporary collective in order to be jointly granted the award.

Hannah B Higgins is a professor and art historian in the Department of Art at the University of Illinois-Chicago and author of Fluxus Experience (University of California Press, 2002) and The Grid Book (MIT Press, 2009) and co-editor with Douglas Kahn of Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art (University of California Press, 2012). She has received the UIC University Scholar Award, DAAD, Getty Research Institute, Philips Collection, and Emily Harvey Foundation Fellowships. Higgins is the daughter of Fluxus artists Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles and is co-executor of the Estate of Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press. Higgins has been teaching at UIC since 1994 and is the Founding Director of the interdisciplinary IDEAS BA in Art. Her research and course topics examine twentieth century avant-garde art with a specific interest in Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, performance art, food art and early computer art. Her books and articles argue for the humanistic value of multi-modal sensory cognitive experience.

Nancy Rose Hunt, professor of History & African Studies at the University of Florida since 2016, is undertaking new research on psychiatry and mental health in Africa, with a focus on diagnostic categories and care in zones of war, migratory politics, and securitization. Awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018 for “Ideation as History,” as well as receiving a Fulbright Specialist Award to an STS global health laboratory in Paris and migratory corridors in Niger that year, she has also been writing for History and Theory while spearheading with Achille Mbembe and Juan Obarrio a new book series at Duke University Press: Theory in Forms.  Her recent book, A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (Duke, 2016), received the Martin A. Klein Prize from the American Historical Association. A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke, 1999) is an innovative ethnographic history of objects and childbearing, which received the Melville Herskovits Book Prize from the African Studies Association. Her scholarship has long pursued medical, gender, technological, and subaltern themes: childbearing, abortion, breastfeeding, and surgical, transport, writing, and visual technologies. 

W. J. T. Mitchell is  is the  Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago and editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature, Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Morey Prize in art history given by the College Art Association of America. In 2003, he received the University of Chicago’s prestigious Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. Mitchell is author of many books including: Iconology (1987), Picture Theory (1995), The Last Dinosaur Book (1998), What do Pictures Want? (2005), Cloning Terror (2011 ), Image Science (2015) and Mental Traveler, forthcoming this Spring from the University of Chicago Press.

For more information and updates please visit or write Mike Schuh, Gray Center Assistant Director of Fellowships and Operations at mikes1 [​at​]

For the latest issue of Portable Gray please visit

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University of Chicago Arts
February 25, 2020

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