Hadra Collider is an on-going multimedia performance work that playfully calls into question the terms of communicability itself. In development with the artist’s brother since around 2018, it is an algorithm machine and conceptual device referring to the Large Hadron Collider, which Bayri fantastically re-imagines as a particle accelerator built inside his throat. Shifting from hadron to hadra, the piece moves in the poetic in-betweens of Arabic and Indo-European linguistics. Hadra here can be 8adra (الهضرة), which in Moroccan Darija means ‘talk’, or it can be 7adra (حضرة), which means both presence and procession. In this shift from ‘talk’ to ‘presence’ to ‘procession’—one that is unrecognizable in Indo-European systems of pronunciation—Hadra Collider “hacks” received codes of linguistic and cultural orientation. In this process, it offers a different way of relating to the disorientation of diasporic experience, turning things around and questioning what “orientation” might even mean.
First workshopped during the 2021 Rijksakademie Open Studios, the performance plays with speech recognition algorithms. As Bayri moves between English, Spanish, Arabic, Darija and a bit of Dutch, the recognition program struggles to keep up. In this pas de deux, the artist’s broad polyglot frame of reference collides with the narrow parameters of the algorithm—this clash becomes a generative force. With each new misinterpretation delivered by the confused machine, another opportunity to diverge and reveal new readings emerges. This dance of (mis)translation was transformed by its presentation context at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in 2022 when Bayri brought his conceptual device to bear on the weight of the Cold War histories housed within the HKW, one of former West Germany’s flagship buildings. Unfolding between the translation booth of the HKW’s UN-style auditorium (where Bayri was positioned) and the main stage projection screen (in front of which the audience sat giggling), the performance in Berlin constellated the triumphant tone of the building’s 1957 inaugural speech with the artist’s own text “A Migrant’s Prayer”, images of the aged building’s cracks and fissures, and improvisational responses to both the images and speech recognition misinterpretations. Eventually spiraling into a distorted rhythm of sounds and phonetic echoes, the second iteration of Hadra Collider was a rumination on the West’s imperial dream of liberal democratic internationalism—one lined with a comedic edge, as many a look back to future imaginings are. What became audible in the passage from ‘talk’ to ‘presence’ to ‘procession’ in Berlin was the obsolescence of technologies of communication that have exhausted themselves, from the ideological vocabularies of cultural policy to the technical possibilities of linguistic interpretation machines.