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Artist and researcher
working at the intersection
of performance, visual arts
and critical theory. 


Just Songs  

Arabic Letter Seen س
Arabic Letter Wow و

Of Quiet Whispers and Loud Speakers 

A Loud Voice Never Dies

Lovesong Revolution
The Post National Anthems
Empty Orchestra
Watani Al Akbar  


Theater of Operations, Exhibition
MoMA PS1, New York
Research Fellow 2019/2020      
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst
Post Opera, Exhibition

Delfina Foundation, Residency

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Copyright © 2023, Urok Shirhan.
All rights reserved. 


xeno-, from Ancient Greek ξένος 
xénos, “foreign, of a stranger”

-phone φωνή 
phōnḗ, “sound”

The term 'xenophones' can be translated as 'strange sounds' as well as 'the sounds of a stranger'. Within the research strategy a certain practice of mimesis takes place – copying, imitating, repeating – that which is essentially part of the process of 'integration': the perfect articulation of voice, speech and culture. In among the words of militant thinker Frantz Fanon (in Black Skins White Masks) this desire for perfected speech (or the perceived failure thereof) is characteristic of the inferiority complex of the colonized, the migrating subject, the other, in one word: the 'xenos'.

This project takes as its main premise the displacement of image and sound, body and voice. Displacing, dislocating, estranging, dispersing, defamiliarising. Desynchronising a voice from its correlating body, and a sound from its corresponding image. A desynchronised sound by default disrupts the ‘familiar’ or ‘habitual’ reading of the image that is associated with it. In Brechtian terms (and in Situationism and French New Wave cinema) we know this effect as a technique of defamiliarisation or estrangement, producing an ‘unheimlich’ feeling. Unheimlich, literally translated as ‘unhomely’ (from the German ‘heimat’ for ‘home’) is therefor in opposition of the uncritical habitual, the habitat, that which is familiar and not 'strange'.