Enter the Void

Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Ursula Biemann
Forensic Architecture
Paulo Tavares

‘Voids’ are gaps, holes, empty spaces, vacuums – in other words, unoccupied rooms or places where there is an absence of material. The term denotes mistakes in the original construction as much as it refers to subsequent breaches or contraventions which substantiate what was formerly an intact structure or presence. Holes, gaps and empty spaces testify to interventions, onslaughts and occurrences. Quite apart from their physical qualities, they can also relate to gaps in knowledge or perception and absorb information that we cannot see, hear, understand or categorise. They can describe a place which lies beyond our mental or sensual grasp. Enter the Void accompanies us to these places. The works on show attest to their existence and to the way we deal with them.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ursula Biemann, Paulo Tavares and the Forensic Architecture research collective are all linked by concept of the ‘void’. Enter the Void presents the approach that connects these actors: seeking out gaps in the communication of events, in chains of evidence or in the administration of justice as if they were nothingnesses in our sensual and physical perception. The artists have investigated these empty spaces via extensive research that involves analysing digital material, field research and interviews, and their contributions to the exhibition have made it possible for us to access these spaces.

Forensic Architecture repeatedly returns to the theme of ‘negative evidence’ in its case studies. This term from jurisprudence is applied when an absence of material evidence – for instance material that has been concealed or destroyed – is taken as proof in itself. It is thus an argumentation ex negativo. Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Paulo Tavares first became acquainted through their work with the research collective Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths University in London. However, for some considerable time now they have been pursuing independent artistic projects. Paulo Taveres & Ursula Biemann, for example, have explored the ecosystem and the idea of the world as a living being. Lawrence Abu Hamdan has concentrated in particular on the significance and truthfulness of sound and the voice.

It is this aspect of (presumed) absence that brings together the contributions of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ursula Biemann, Forensic Architecture and Paulo Tavares in the exhibition Enter the Void. Their work frequently plays a role in viewing crimes from a new perspective or solving them altogether. This makes it critically important not just as art, but also for society itself, as contemporary art becomes the setting of a battle for democracy, justice, natural rights and human rights.

The exhibiton is supported by Stiftung Rheinland-Pfalz für Kultur, Pro Helvetia and Rudolf-Augstein-Stiftung.

Curated by Stefanie Böttcher.


Interviews with the artists (PDF)