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Nour Mobarak: Dafne Phono

October 26, 2024–January 12, 2025

The Museum of Modern Art

For her first museum exhibition in New York City, Lebanese American artist Nour Mobarak presents a large-scale installation reinterpreting the first opera, La Dafne, which was staged by Jacopo Peri and Ottavio Rinuccini in 1598 and inspired by Ovid’s myth of Apollo and Daphne. In Mobarak’s reimagining of La Dafne, 15 singing sculptures—encasing a multichannel sound installation within mycelium structures—recount the tale in some of the world’s most phonetically complex languages.

Building on histories of avant-garde sound, Mobarak’s most ambitious work to date draws on a longstanding interest in mechanized voice and memory across her practice, which ranges from sculpture to performance, moving image, poetry, and music. In Dafne Phono, Mobarak draws analogies between linguistic structure and the biological processes of mycelium, exploring how both are governed by systems of repetition, decomposition, and regeneration, and relate to wider forces of political power. Bringing new perspectives to a key antecedent in the history of performance, Dafne Phono joins nature and technology in an exploration of the voice’s ability to endure cycles of life and death, bridging histories both ancient and present.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator, Department of Film, with May Makki, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Sarah Arison Endowment Fund for Performance and by the Wallis Annenberg Director’s Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art.

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Installation view, Nour Mobarak, Dafne Phono, Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, 2023. Photograph: Stathis Mamalakis. Courtesy the artist and Sylvia Kouvali, London / Piraeus