Art Installation "Gardens Speak" Makes U.S. Debut

Mon, Mar 28th 2016, 5:32PM

The Middle East Institute (MEI), in partnership with the National Building Museum, and with the support of the British Council, is pleased to present the interactive sound installation Gardens Speak and a program of talks with the artist, Tania El Khoury.    
Gardens Speak is an interactive sound installation featuring the oral histories of ten Syrians who died and were buried in private gardens during the early years of the uprising. Each narrative has been carefully constructed with the friends and family members of the deceased to retell their stories as they themselves may have recounted them. The stories are comprised of found audio that reveals the victims' final moments.  

The installation also challenges visitors to consider the role of the built environment in conflict zones beyond that of shelter. When buildings, landscapes, and shared public spaces are affected by conflict, there can be a devastating impact not only on all areas of human life, but also on the important communal rituals associated with burial.
Since 2014, Gardens Speak has toured to Melbourne, Birmingham, Bucharest, Munich, Lancaster, Edinburgh, UK, and London and was selected for the Artraker Award on art and conflict.

"Art is supposed to be universal - and there is no more universal thing than fear of death. Or grief. In Gardens Speak, out of the most specific experience, Tania El Khoury crafts something massive." -Paul Mason, Channel 4

"This piece will change the way you think." -★★★★ What's on Stage

Show Information and Details

When: April 7-12, 2016 |10:00am- 5:00pm | shows run on the hour
Late night on Thursday April 7, 2016 from 10:00am-8:00pm
Where: The National Building Museum | 401 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001

The installation is free but has limited capacity of only ten visitors per hour. Booking is essential. Children under the age of 14 will not be admitted. For ticket and visitor information please click here.


dates and locations of programs with the artist

Artist in Conversation | Tania El Khoury: Live Art & The Everyday
Thursday, April 7, 2016
When: 6:00pm-7:00pm, Reception to follow
Where: The National Building Museum- Auditorium
Tania El Khoury will discuss her interactive and immersive works which engage audience members as active participants. Her art documents everyday life and provokes discussion about current issues, personal histories, and the politics of public and personal space.
Tania El Khoury, Lebanese-British Artist and Author of Gardens Speak
Moderator- Honey Al Sayed, Syrian Journalist, Adjunct Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

When: 12:00pm-1:30pm, A light lunch will be served
Where: The National Building Museum- Auditorium

Panelists will analyze the role and impact of the arts in providing insight into the causes of conflict and their ability to provide alternative realities, as well as highlight the role of the arts as a tool of soft power within the fields of international relations and cultural diplomacy. 

J.J. El-Far, Arts Program Officer, British Council USA
Tania El Khoury, Lebanese-British Artist, Author of Gardens Speak
Bassam Haddad, Director of Middle East Studies Program, George Mason University
Natasha Hall, Director, Art in Exile
Moderator- Kim Ghattas, Journalist, BBC

Click here for full event details and registration.


Artist in Conversation | Tania El Khoury: The Arts as a Global Connector
Friday, April 8, 2016
When: 5:30pm-6:30pm
Where: Georgetown University, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Intercultural Center (ICC), Room 241 CCAS Boardroom - 3700 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20057

Tania El Khoury will engage students interested in Middle East studies and international relations in a conversation about the importance of cultural connections and the role of the arts in revealing the concerns and aspirations of societies.

Tania El Khoury, Lebanese-British Artist, Author of Gardens Speak
Moderator- Rochelle Davis, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Georgetown University

Click here for full event details and registration.