Haseeb Ahmed

born 1985, Toledo, OH
lives in Brussels

Building on his ongoing investigation into the mythopoetics of wind, Haseeb Ahmed’s site-specific installation Vanquish the Void! (2022) transforms the winds of Lake Erie into a staged
weather system in The Lab at SPACES. Ahmed records the winds of Cleveland using a dedicated weather station visible through the gallery window. Inside, these winds are played back in a dramatized form with custom-made automated aeoliphones. Aeoliphones are traditionally crank-driven machines that have been used since the seventeenth century to create gentle breezes and chaotic storms for opera, theater, and cinema. The gallery becomes a place to stage the winds and all their cultural associations. The installation is designed to bring the wind into the hermetic gallery and back out again.

An eight-part score made in collaboration with musicians Heavy Color (Ben Cohen and Sam Woldenberg) duets with these staged winds. The score is a five-channel composition for a small woodwind ensemble performed by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Booth and also incorporates a collection of accounts of the winds of Cleveland by its residents. In a final movement, the score and the aeoliphones’ winds serve as the soundtrack for a film made in
real time in the gallery. The film’s visuals are made with practical effects: a model on a suspended turntable rotates through eight different scales of the city which the winds affect. The score and scenes together represent the full cycle of a storm passing through the area, building up from a void to a gentle breeze, then its imminent arrival, cataclysmic climax, and eventual aftermath and repeat. The model itself takes the place of the “eye of the storm” around which a visual vortex forms. Oriented toward downtown, the installation addresses the city as its audience.

THE ARTIST THANKS
Heavy Color (Ben Cohen and Sam Woldenberg), Pieter Heremans, Atelier Vilvoorde, Harlan Levey Projects, SPACES team, Sears Think[box] at Case Western Reserve University, Jeremy
Paul, Patrick Booth, and Leen Scholiers

WIND ACCOUNTS
Dorothy Williams, Matt Foss, Leslie Woldenberg, Lee Woldenberg, Hernan Vasquez, Akili Jackson, Yusuf Lateef, Stacy Jurich, Leen Scholiers, and Haseeb Ahmed

SPACES

Haseeb Ahmed, Vanquish the Void!, 2022, Produced with the support of the SPACES International Residency Program. Special thanks to (or assistance by) Heavy Color, Pieter Heremans, Atelier Vilvoorde, Harlan Levey Projects, SPACES team, Sears Think[box] at Case Western Reserve University, Jeremy Paul, Patrick Booth, and Leen Scholiers

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