Santiago Sierra’s Nonstop, Eight-Day Performance Will Recite the Names of Those Killed in the Syrian Conflict

The reading will take place across four cities on three continents.

Santiago Sierra, 120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book, (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.Santiago Sierra, 120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book, (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.
Santiago Sierra, 120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book, (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.

A new, upcoming performance by artist Santiago Sierra, titled THE NAMES OF THOSE KILLED IN THE SYRIAN CONFLICT, BETWEEN 15th OF MARCH 2011 AND 31st OF DECEMBER 2016, will take place for a total duration of eight days from May 21 to 29, across four cities on three continents.

Sierra, a native of Spain, will not perform the work himself; instead native Arabic speakers, including refugees, first and second generation migrants, school teachers, actors, and more—a total of around 16 performers in each city—will recite the names aloud.

“As a contemporary of this massacre i am inevitably connected to it. On the other hand, I am moved by a deep shame of being European and seeing the infamy with which those fleeing from Syria or from any other disaster are treated. The Mediterranean is a cemetery and Europe a cave of pirates,” the artist tells artnet News of his motivation to create the performance.
Santiago Sierra, <i>120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book,</i> (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.Santiago Sierra, <i>120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book,</i> (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.

Santiago Sierra, 120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book, (2004). Helga de Alvear Gallery, Madrid. Photo courtesy Santiago Sierra Studio.

The work will begin in Israel, at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, on May 21 at 4 pm, and continue there for 48 hours, the entirety of which time the public is welcome in the gallery. It will also be streamed live on Sierra’s website.

Then, the performance will continue to Austria, at the Wiener Festwochen in Vienna, from May 23 at 3 pm to May 25 at 3 pm, and from there to England, to Lisson Gallery in London, for 48 hours beginning on May 25 at 2 pm. It will be completed at the Performance Biennale BP.17 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a leg lasting 56 hours and 43 minutes, starting on May 27 at 10 am, and continuing until May 29 at 6:43 pm.

Names of the deceased were gathered by the Grupo de Investigación sobre el Conflicto en Siria (GICS), led by Pedro Brieger, Professor of Sociology of the Middle East at the University of Buenos Aires.

Sierra has previously undertaken similar performances, like the 2004 work 120 hours of continuous reading of a telephone book. Or, more recently, 2205 State Crimes, in 2016 in Madrid. For that piece, two native Arabic speakers read “the names of those killed between July 8 and August 26, 2014 during Israel’s assault on Gaza.” See a two hour video of that below.


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