Infinite Ear

What if the journey in the deaf spectrum was considered as a gain instead of a loss? Following the provocative proposal of the Deaf Gain1, Infinite Ear is a six-year collaborative research with Deaf and hard of hearing people about the transformations of hearing norms with Deaf knowledge.

Initiated in 2013 as a commission by Al Amal School for the Deaf and the Sharjah Art Foundation, Infinite Ear operates at the intersection of arts, sciences and Deaf culture. The inquiry has gathered visual artists, sign language interpreters, musicians, dancers, architects, and writers through a series of workshops, events, exhibitions and new commissions.

Infinite Ear critically reflects on ableism2 in art practices, exhibitions and accessibility policies. Looking for alternatives to the modern conception of hearing, the essay The Cochlear Vertigo3 introduces the directions for accessing and imagining sound explored by artists in the inquiry.

Each occasion was a step into learning and unlearning with Deaf culture.

Infinite Ear has been developed through a six-year dialogue with Tarek Atoui around the making of sound instruments that could be played and listened to by people with any kind of hearing condition. The collaboration is presented in the conversation When We Met.

On the occasion of TACET (2013, Sharjah), Council organised a series of workshops with artists, researchers and students from the Al Amal School for the Deaf around the perception of sound by people in the deaf spectrum and their expression into sign language. The accounts What is Noise?, Beyond Language, Signs and Sounds and Drumming like a Dog Barking reflects on this first phase of the inquiry.

TACET led to a number of collaborations and ideas. In MoMA PS1, Noe Soulier and Jeffrey Mansfield continued their collaboration on the manifestation of sound in the body and consciousness of a Deaf person (Deaf Sound, 2014).

Infinite Ear took the shape of an exhibition presented in Bergen Assembly, Garage Museum of Contempoary Art and CentroCentro. The exhibition articulated WITHIN, an instrumentarium by Tarek Atoui; New Listeners, a film installation by Alison O’Daniel; A (mis)reader’s Guide to Listening, a series of sensing practices proposed a mediation by Lendl Barcelos, Valentina Desideri and Myriam Lefkowitz; and Portraits, a collection of stories of individuals who were confronted with a transformation in their perception of sound and relationship to hearing written by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Vinciane Despret, Mara Mills, Louise Stern and Sophie Wooley, and designed by Goda Budvytyte.

Tarek Atoui, Grégory Castéra and Sandra Terdjman gave talks about Infinite Ear in Ashkal Alwan (Beirut), Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow), Kunstinstituut Melly (Rotterdam), Samdani Art Foundation (Dhaka), Statens Konstråd / Public Art Agency (Stockholm) and TBA21 (Vienna)

'TACET', first phase of research of the project, commissioned by Sharjah Foundation, in collaboration with Tarek Atoui and Al Amal School for the Deaf, 2013

A workshop with coreographer Noé Soulier and architect Jeffrey Mansfield, on the occasion of 'Composing Differences' at MoMA PS1, 2014

'Infinite Ear' at Bergen Assembly 2016, an exhibition curated by Council with Tarek Atoui

'Infinite Ear' at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, with Tarek Atoui, Alison O'Daniel, Lendl Barcelos, Valentina Desideri, Myriam Lefkowitz, 2018

'Infinite Ear' at CentroCentro, Madrid, an exhibition with Tarek Atoui, Alison O'Daniel, Valentina Desideri, Lendl Barcelos, Myriam Lefkowitz, Mattin, and a film by Robert Ashley, 2019-20

Infinite Ear, a project by Council, initiated in collaboration with Tarek Atoui (2013-ongoing)


  • Tarek Atoui
  • Lendl Barcelos
  • Goda Budvytyte
  • Valentina Desideri
  • Myriam Lefkowitz
  • Jeffrey Mansfield
  • Alison O'Daniel
  • Noé Soulier
  • Inigo Wilkins


  • Ellie Armon Azoulay
  • Rayya Badran
  • Cecilia Granara
  • Abhijan Gupta
  • Flora Katz
  • Kathryn Marshall
  • Emma McCormick-Goodhart


  • Bassem Abdel Gaffar
  • Hanselm Bauman
  • Virginie Bobin
  • Desiree Heiss
  • Stephen Helmreich
  • Wendy Jacob
  • Oliver Pouliot
  • Hoor Al Qasimi

Initiated with

  • Sharjah Art Foundation
  • Al Amal School for the Deaf

Co-produced by

  • MoMA PS1
  • Bergen Assembly
  • Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Centro Centro

Supported by

  • Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation
  • French Embassy of New York
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Foundation for Arts Initiatives


  • Art in General
  • Ashkal alwan
  • Bergen Assembly
  • E.m.m.a
  • Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
  • MiArt
  • MoMA PS1
  • Samdani Art Foundation
  • Sharjah Biennial
  • State of Concept
  • Phenomenon 2
  • TBA21

    Cover and top image: Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening, Bergen Assembly 2016, Photo: Thor Brødreskift © Bergen Assembly
1. H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray, “Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity”, University of Minnesota Press, 2014
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2. Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to be disabled.
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3. Published in What Now?: The Politics of Listening (Black Dog Publishing, 2016)
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