Rana Hamadeh undertakes artistic research in discursive projects that grow and evolve over several years and take manifest form in theatrical performances, sound compositions, interactive audiovisual installations, and system designs as well as pedagogical setups. In thematic terms, her work is dedicated to an ongoing scrutiny of the epistemologies and technologies of justice, examining tropes of violence that find their genealogies in both spectacular and mundane instances in history and contemporary culture.
Since 2016, Hamadeh has been developing an “operatic practice,” experimenting with writing and composing and testing out models for collective thinking and study. Her works are rooted in interdisciplinary research and operate at the interfaces of various fields such as theater, theosophy, epidemiology, legal theory, translational practices, and technology. Constantly shifting and reframing the theoretical and aesthetic categories that she engages with, Hamadeh deliberately trespasses the logic of classificatory systems by pursuing the implications of different and even contradictory arguments and unfolding expansive webs of associations and constructs.
Hamadeh often reuses the titles of her works, realizing different media formats at successive exhibition venues. Her opera project The Ten Murders of Josephine (2017–18) grew to encompass a reading circle, a theatrical performance, and a series of sound-based exhibitions. The series of works journeyed across a web of narratives that explored the conditions of “validity” within legal discourse and probed the concept of
testimony and testimonial subjecthood in relation to histories of property, labor, and documentality. To adapt her 50-minute composition to the form of a sprawling installation, she designed an ensemble of cacophonous interactive acoustic zones extending through several exhibition rooms. The score interwove texts, interviews, chants, telephone conversations with live machine translations, and interventions; the operatic register throws into sharp relief the harrowing violence beneath the surface of the legal administrative jargon.
In her most recent venture, The Destiny Project / Soft-Measure Fables, Hamadeh revisits Sophocles’ famed tragedy Oedipus Rex. Rather than re-narrating the distressing misfortunes of Oedipus, king of Thebes, whose grievous journey of self-discovery unfolds at the height of the Theban plague, the work conducts a reading of the play itself—that is, a reading of Sophocles’ “figuration of tragedy.” In its endeavor to think through what constitutes tragedy, the work follows the play’s dramatic construct, examining its inner workings as an extended “technology of endurance.” In this project, Hamadeh is particularly interested in the notion of destiny and in the journey of privatization of grief. In a first stage, she created three computer-generated film sequences that suggest a videogame, visualizing scenarios that are as dreamlike as they are sinister, the action propelled by cogwheels and prostheses.