´The Death of James Lee Byars - Zad Moultaka in dialogue’. James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars – installation view © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars; Marie-Puck Broodthaers
Portrait of Zad Moultaka. © Sarah Bastin
Portrait of Zad Moultaka. © Sarah Bastin

Zad Moultaka
French-Lebanese
composer and visual
artist. Born on June 4,
1967 in Wadi Chahrour
(Lebanon)

 

Zad Moultaka has regularly exhibited in Lebanon, Venice and Paris. In 2017, he represented Lebanon at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with ŠamaŠ, Soleil Noir Soleil, which brings together a sound and visual installation.

Zad Moultaka, Terra, Incognita 2018, Dimension 590 X 230 cm. Acrylic on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
Zad Moultaka, Terra, Incognita 2018, Dimension 590 X 230 cm. Acrylic on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Since 2016, photography exhibition(Astres Fruitiers), painting works, sound and visual installations were shown in France at the Institut du Monde Arabe as part of the artistic event of great magnitude in Paris, Nuit Blanche, with the partnership of IRCAM. In addition to a show at the Dome of Oscar Niemeyer in Tripoli, Lebanon, Pompidou Metz, France, Venice, Italy, Deutsche Oper Berlin.

At the end of the 1990s, he abandoned a successful career as a solo pianist to devote himself entirely to composition and the visual arts

HE REPRESENTED LEBANON AT THE 57TH VENICE BIENNALE (MAY-NOVEMBER 2017)

´The Death of James Lee Byars - Zad Moultaka in dialogue’. James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars – installation view © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars; Marie-Puck Broodthaers
´The Death of James Lee Byars – Zad Moultaka in dialogue’. James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars – installation view © Michael Werner Gallery, The Estate of James Lee Byars; Marie-Puck Broodthaers

He created the Mezwej ensemble in 2004, a project based on an approach, a state of mind of experimentation, research and creation through a questioning of Eastern and Western cultures, specific tension and friction between writing and orality.

Sketches for Vocal Shadows (2019). © Zad Moultaka
Sketches for Vocal Shadows (2019). © Zad Moultaka
Sketches for Vocal Shadows (2019). © Zad Moultaka
Sketches for Vocal Shadows (2019). © Zad Moultaka

 

Zad Moultaka has been pursuing for several years a personal research on plastic and musical language. In his work as a composer, he integrates the fundamental data of Western contemporary writing – structures, trends, families and signs – with the specific characteristics of Arabic music – monody, heterophony, modality, rhythms, vocality

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installation view of ´The Death of James Lee Byars - Zad Moultaka in dialogue’ © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of thee artist
Installation view of ´The Death of James Lee Byars – Zad Moultaka in dialogue’ © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of thee artist

 

 

 

 

IN 2017, SEVERAL MAJOR EVENTS REINFORCED THE INTERNATIONAL POSITION OF ZAD MOULTAKA, RED WIRE COMPOSER OF THE MUSICA EDITION OF THE YEAR: PARTICIPATION IN ART DUBAI IN THE ARAB EMIRATES, MAJOR EXHIBITION AT ST PIERRE-AUXNONNAINS AT THE ARSENAL OF METZ , DESIGN AND REALIZATION WITH « ŠAMAŠ » SOUND AND PLASTIC INSTALLATION FOR THE LEBANESE PAVILION, BIENNIAL OF ART OF VENICE, ITALY (MAY-NOVEMBER 2017)

The Death of James Lee Byars - Zad Moultaka in dialogue’. James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, detail © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of Zad Moultaka
The Death of James Lee Byars – Zad Moultaka in dialogue’. James Lee Byars, The Death of James Lee Byars, detail © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of Zad Moultaka

Vocal Shadows is an immersive audio installation Zad Moultaka has conceived specifically for this exhibition. With rituals of mourning as its central leitmotifs and drawing from the artist’s personal background in music, this installation evokes a funeral choir whose requiem guides the passage of a disembodied spirit. Sixteen loudspeakers, arranged in two symmetrical lines and spaced at regular intervals, play back in loop multiple anonymous voices, quoting from the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian scripture on the afterlife. Their singing style is, as Moultaka has characterized, somewhere between a polyphonic chant and tantric breathing. Seeking to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western cultural traditions, whilst playing with notions of performance and physical absence, Zad Moultaka finds a natural companion in James Lee Byars. On a subtle level, his Vocal Shadows alludes to The Play of Death, one of the first ever performances in which Byars directly dealt with the subject of mortality. Performed in 1977 on the balconies of the Dom Hotel in Cologne, it involved the artist, flanked by doctors, briefly uttering the sound “th…” (for “thanatos,” the Greek for “death”).

AT BIENNALE
Location: Fondamenta Zattere ai Gesuati, 30123 Venice – Italy

Zad Moultaka, Vocal Shadows (2019). © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of the artist
Zad Moultaka, Vocal Shadows (2019). © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of the artist
Zad Moultaka, Vocal Shadows (2019). © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of the artist
Zad Moultaka, Vocal Shadows (2019). © Formentini Zanatta. Courtesy of the artist

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS #49

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