30 September to 3 October 2011
A three day event
Fondation Royaumont, Asnières sur Oise, France.

 Sleep Song

Fondation Royaumont
Asnières sur Oise


From the dreams and nightmares that have haunted US veterans of the Iraq war, Mike Ladd created poems. These poems led to an encounter with the other side. In Baghdad, Ahmed Abdul Hussein, too, felt the war as a source of words and wrote poetry. A meeting between invisible enemies who become visible men. At Royaumont.

Artistic director Mike Ladd brought together the poetry of American war veteran Maurice Decaul and Iraqi poet Ahmed Abdul Hussein. With the inspiring music of Iraqi oud player Ahmad Mukhtar, jazz musician Vijay Iyer, and guitar percussionist Serge Teyssot-Gay, Sleep Song brings to life the experiences of the Iraq war from both sides of the conflict.


           Mike Ladd          Ahmed Abdul Hussein

From left to right: Maurice Decaul, war veteran and poet, Mike Ladd, poet and artistic director of Sleep Song and Ahmed Abdul Hussein, Iraqi poet and performer.


Atelier d'idées - War and Artistic Creation

 Performance at RoyaumentC

The performers take a bow after the premier performance. From left to right: jazz piano player Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, oud player Ahmad Mukhtar, Ahmed Abdul Hussein, Maurice Decaul and guitar percussionist Serge Teyssot-Gay.

Click here to watch a short video of Sleep Song.


Alongside performances of Sleep Song, its artists joined philosophers and sociologists to investigate what drives humans to use artistic creation to silence the sound and fury of the warrior world. Directed by Denis Laborde.

2 October
Abbaye de Royaumont


Round Table – 'Sleep Song: Its Creation'

The performers discussed how they combined poetry and music to create 'Sleep Song'. With members of the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

Round Table – 'Art Against War'

Specialists from different fields of expertise, including music, plastic arts and poetry, discussed the power of artistic creation to preserve or renew the dialogue for peace.

3 October

Sleep Song Members

Ahmad Mukhtar, Ahmed Abdul Hussein, Maurice Decaul and Vijay Iyer with poet Abbas Beydoun (second left) on the steps on the Theatre de l'Odéon in Paris.

Odéon - Théatre de l'Europe, Paris

Round Table – 'Political Engagement and Cultural Diplomacy'
The role of artistic creation in post-war cultural diplomacy is up against historical analysis of the memory of war. Can the artist's voice only be heard once the weapons have been silenced?

For more information about the Atelier d'idées – War and Artistic Creation (Guerre et création artistique) click here
For more information about Royaumont, click here.

The Sleep Song project is supported by Banipal