In 2019-2020, the artist Annabel Daou created and exhibited a 20-foot text-covered sculptural scroll, WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, titled in an allusion to the Declaration of Independence. The text for the scroll was sourced collectively and contained everyday expressions interspersed with lines borrowed, stolen, or gifted by other artists, poets, writers, and activists. In 2020, Daou created the sound piece DECLARATION (running time: 24 minutes 40 seconds) in collaboration with the sound artist Miriam Schickler. The work features Daou’s voice reciting phrases from the scroll as first-person actions, interspersed with a mix of sounds, both of peaceful city life and chants from recent protests in Chile, Lebanon, and other places around the world. The Ulrich Museum of Art acquired the piece for its permanent collection in 2021.
As Daou herself describes her work, it deals “with yearnings and anxieties that are both personal and political.” Her process involves “mining the expressive possibilities of ordinary words and phrases in order to reveal unexpected intimacies between individual and collective experience.” Writing in Artforum, Wendy Vogel described Daou as “a compassionate Conceptualist.” In DECLARATION, the anonymous narrator’s actions range from the mundane to the momentous while her emotions run the gamut from joy to rage, from doubt to despair. The work is a moving reminder of the Feminist maxim that the personal is political and an exploration of the way each one of us has the power to contribute to large-scale social movements through a surprisingly wide range of possible actions.
Annabel Daou: DECLARATION is a project conceived as part of Ulrich Connections, a program that ties the Museum’s robust exhibition and event programming more directly to the world outside its walls. As part of the program, the Ulrich seeks out strategic partnerships with campus or community organizations to create temporary exhibitions and events that will allow the Museum to reach new audiences and increase awareness and access to its collection. For this project, the Ulrich is partnering with the Rhatigan Student Center to present the sound installation in Grace Memorial Chapel, an ecumenical, contemplative space located in the heart of the Wichita State University campus. Visitors will be able to drop in during the chapel’s extended open hours to experience the work while also discovering an architectural gem hidden in plain sight. The Ulrich envisions the experience as an invitation to all visitors, and especially to the many young people who traverse the WSU campus, to consider their own power, the possibilities of social action, and the impact their actions have on the world around them.
About the Artist
Annabel Daou (b. 1967) is a contemporary Lebanese artist. Born and raised in Beirut, she currently resides in New York City. Her work takes place at the intersection of writing, speech, and nonverbal communication, and her artistic practice incorporates the creation of sculptures, drawings, sound pieces, videos, and performances.
Daou was most recently a Pollock-Krasner resident at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York City in 2019-20. Daou’s work has been shown at The National Museum of Beirut; The Park Avenue Armory, New York; KW, Berlin; The Drawing Room, London; and The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Public collections in which her work can be found include the Baltimore Museum of Art; the The Menil Collection; Brooklyn Museum; the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul; and the Yale University Art Gallery.
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