Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Wissam, 2016, artifical orange tree, dictaphone cassette tape, photographs, 210 x 80 cm

I first met Wissam in a village in the Chouf Mountains of Lebanon. I was sitting on the curb at the side of the road when I noticed something in a tree moving wildly in the wind and glistening brightly in the sun. On closer inspection I saw that the shimmering tree was covered in unraveled cassette tape and later learnt that this was a vernacular technique to use the obsolete media to ward off the birds and insects from praying on the tree’s fruit. I began following the trail of cassette tape that was quivering on the trees and it led me into an orchard of clementines. The whole orchard was incandescent, there must have been dozens of tapes containing hundreds of songs and sermons. It was one tree in particular, deep in the orchard that stood out to me. The tape that was protecting this tree’s clementines was much thinner - it was mini-cassette tape - the kind used in small dictaphone recorders or answering machines.

Anticipating a more personal content to this recording, I collected all the mini-cassette tape from the tree and harvested the voice that was magnetized to its surface. The voice had weathered badly in its tireless defence of the clementines, yet there was small fragments that remained recoverable. The process of recovery was demanding, some phonemes had to be listen to for hours in order to properly differentiate the muffed words from one another. After listening over and over again to the opening lines, I eventually heard the voice identify itself as Wissam [inaudible], and understood from Wissam that I was listening to an audio recorded manuscript for a book or a manifesto on the elusive concept of Taqiyya. Taqiyya is an esoteric Islamic juridical concept that is widely understood as the right to lie.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Wissam, 2016, artifical orange tree, dictaphone cassette tape, photographs, 210 x 80 cm

I first met Wissam in a village in the Chouf Mountains of Lebanon. I was sitting on the curb at the side of the road when I noticed something in a tree moving wildly in the wind and glistening brightly in the sun. On closer inspection I saw that the shimmering tree was covered in unraveled cassette tape and later learnt that this was a vernacular technique to use the obsolete media to ward off the birds and insects from praying on the tree’s fruit. I began following the trail of cassette tape that was quivering on the trees and it led me into an orchard of clementines. The whole orchard was incandescent, there must have been dozens of tapes containing hundreds of songs and sermons. It was one tree in particular, deep in the orchard that stood out to me. The tape that was protecting this tree’s clementines was much thinner - it was mini-cassette tape - the kind used in small dictaphone recorders or answering machines.

Anticipating a more personal content to this recording, I collected all the mini-cassette tape from the tree and harvested the voice that was magnetized to its surface. The voice had weathered badly in its tireless defence of the clementines, yet there was small fragments that remained recoverable. The process of recovery was demanding, some phonemes had to be listen to for hours in order to properly differentiate the muffed words from one another. After listening over and over again to the opening lines, I eventually heard the voice identify itself as Wissam [inaudible], and understood from Wissam that I was listening to an audio recorded manuscript for a book or a manifesto on the elusive concept of Taqiyya. Taqiyya is an esoteric Islamic juridical concept that is widely understood as the right to lie.