Sonic Arts Lounge
Hassan Khan “Superstructure (II)”
Sonic Arts Lounge
In his compositions, multimedia works, installations and performances, Cairo-based Egyptian artist and musician Hassan Khan focuses on the conceptual and communicative role of art. Art as a language that discloses cultural and social structures in a very particular manner – especially when it breaks with traditional conventions by negating or deconstructing them. In this vein, Hassan Khan has staged works including a video piece composed entirely of gestures and glances entitled “European Stage Episode” (2010), as well as a series of “photographic miniatures” made of everyday images that were seemingly snapped by coincidence using a mobile phone (“Lust” 2008).
Also made with a mobile phone is his video film “Blind Ambition” (2012), which was presented at dOCUMENTA (13).The film is made up of professionally re-enacted scenes of everyday life including gossip, slander and speculations, and is also about colloquial speech and social behaviour patterns, and finally about the conditions surrounding material culture. By devoting himself to ordinary culture and language and by integrating his personal perspective and emotions in his artistic work, his pieces have manifested themselves as a barometer of their time.
Likewise, in some of his music, Hassan Khan draws upon a popular genre that – as with punk or reggae – has been authored collectively and thus embodies material conditions of the present. In his re-articulation of Shaabi music (a term literally meaning "of the people") he emphasizes its formal structure and hysterical intensity. Other pieces explore abstract and chaotic structures, as well as investigate atonal harmonics and melodic phrasing. “Superstructure (II)” contains pre-composed material and improv. It is a performance that ranges from a delicate breakdown of mesmeric shimmering string arrangements, nocturnal piano minuets, and finely wrought electronica, to the brutal beats of stacked gamelan riffs and a new selection of hardcore new-wave synth-Shaabi. The concert’s coda “Taraban” is the artist's own minimal reinterpretation of an early 20th century Egyptian classic.