In February 2015, Abdullah Al-Othman culminated months of research into the use of music as weaponry, with a performance titled No Touch Torture, as part of an exhibition curated by Mo Reda at The Mine, Dubai. Sitting within a glass box, he listened for three solid hours to twenty-one songs reportedly used by the CIA as a torture technique in ‘war on terror’ prisons, namely Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
By combining different elements, testaments to the performance, Othman confronts the viewer with the raw ingredients – human, almost forensic evidence of the behavior of mankind in the face of extremism. He raises a number of intertwined issues that characterize today’s commonly used, systemized violence – actions that severely sacrifice human dignity. The installation draws attention to the detail implicit in one man’s experience of this method of torture, to the potency of repetitive and brainwashing patterns, both sonic and behavioral. The work highlights individual actions and reactions, that when compounded by a mass of similar events, have the force of a social and political tidal wave that leaves no room for individualism, freedom of thought or action.