Soundwave NEXT: Past and Future Forms

Past and Future Forms is a performance with individual and collaborative sets that weave through each other initiated by interdisciplinary-sound artist Sholeh Asgary with interdisciplinary video artist-scholar Dena Al-Adeeb, visual-performance artist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and dance-sound-performance artist Leyya Mona Tawil. Through the lens of SWANA (South-West Asia, North Africa) experimentalism in sound and performance, the project explores cyclical time and the optics of visibility in relation to the body as a past and future form, shaped by foreign policy, crude oil and water.

The virtual Fall 2020 presentation of Past and Future Forms utilizes the body as an additive and subtractive element through video-animation, sound and movement. Using the Epic of Gilgamesh as a departure point, this performance is an excavation of the symbolic physical language that is to culminate in the final future.


Sholeh Asgary

Sholeh Asgary is an Iranian born interdisciplinary sound artist based in Oakland, CA who creates immersive works, sound performances, and audience-participatory workshops. Relating to her early somatic experiences as a refugee, her practice takes on an alchemical process of distilling symbolic representations into messengers of liminal spaces. Her sound performances make use of repetitious actions, improvisation and objects that relate to the histories she works with, creating ritualized feedback loops. A current affiliate artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts, she is a 2020 artist-in-residence at Wassaic Project, Kala Art Institute, Mass MoCA, and Arab.AMP, where she leads a monthly participatory sound series with support from the California Arts Council. Recent exhibitions, performances and screenings include ARoS Art Museum, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and Minnesota Street Project.

Dena A Al-Adeeb

Dena A Al-Adeeb is an Iraqi American scholar and artist. As a practicing artist, Al-Adeeb creates performative works dedicated to participatory and socially engaged art, and collaborative projects. Her artwork investigates the relationship among the politics, poetics, and aesthetics of mapping collective memory, subaltern narratives, repurposed architecture, and war-torn geographies in protest. The experience of being rooted within a community and an art practice, and researching through and within that practice/community, is critical to her activism, scholarship, and pedagogical praxes. Al-Adeeb’s research focuses on global war geographies and oil economies as they manifest through collective memory, material culture, and infrastructure, and she is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled: The Architecture of War: The Destructions of Iraq and the Rise of Petro-cultural Imaginaries. The book seeks to critically investigate how art, architecture, archaeology, and visual culture have been affected—destroyed, transformed, invented—by imperial and neoliberal processes in Iraq and the Arab Gulf countries. A current Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis, her work appears in a diversity of publications including: Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, among others, and has been exhibited internationally at such places as Mana Contemporary, Museum of Tunisia, Art 13: London: Modern and Contemporary Art Fair, and the Arab American National Museum.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (b. Damascus, 1990) is a visual artist, performer and curator. Bhutto’s work explores complex histories of colonialism that are exacerbated by contemporary international politics and in the process unpacks the intersections of queerness and Islam through a multi-media practice.

Leyya Mona Tawil

Leyya Mona Tawil is an artist working with dance, sound and performance practices. Tawil is Syrian Palestinian American, engaged in the world as such. She has a 23-year record of performance scores that have been presented throughout the US, Europe and the Arab world. Tawil was named the ISSUE Project Room Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow for 2020 for her project “Nomadic Signals”. She was also a 2018 Saari Fellow (Finland). Her work, Lime Rickey International’s Future Faith, commissioned by Abrons Arts Center and the KONE Foundation, was nominated for a 2019 Bessie Award in Music. Tawil has received commissions from Target Margin Theater’s LAB 2019, Pieter Performance Space Residency 2020, Gibney Dance-in-Process 2020 and Kenneth Rainin Foundation NEW Program. She is the founder and director of Arab.AMP, a platform for experimental work and ideas from the SWANA diaspora. She also directs TAC: Temescal Art Center in Oakland-CA.


This event is part of Soundwave NEXT, a new partnership between Gray Area and Soundwave, two veteran San Francisco arts organizations to explore the future of sound. The program invites curators, artists, producers, and collectives to present new performance-based works or productions based in sound. This program seeks to answer what is the future of sound as a construct and ask “What’s next?” for the medium as it relates to our collective social, cultural, technological and/or political experience.

Fall/Winter 2020
October 15: "To Hear the Earth Before the End of the World (Act I-iii ; Earth and Sky)"
By LaMont Hamilton

November 20: "Past and Future Forms"
Lead Artist Sholeh Asgary with Dena Al-Adeeb, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Leyya Mona Tawil

December 10: "Re:Seed"
Lead Artist Bert Yip with Jeffrey Yip

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