Chisenhale Gallery presents the first institutional solo exhibition by London and Beirut-based artist Maeve Brennan and the premiere of a major new film commission The Drift (2017).
The film is produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol and commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore.
In The Drift, Brennan traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon. The film moves between three main characters: the gatekeeper of the Roman temples of Niha in the Beqaa Valley; a young mechanic from Britel, a village known for trading automobile parts; and an archaeological conservator working at the American University of Beirut.
Combining documentary footage, gathered through fieldwork, with staged scenes, the work depicts layered histories and communities. The Drift follows Brennan’s encounters with the gatekeeper as he recounts his life’s work restoring and guarding the temple ruins, while the mechanic crosses the Beqaa landscape, searching scrap yards for used automobile parts to transform his BMW car. Inside his workshop, the conservator slowly pieces together fragments of clay artefacts.
Forms of maintenance and repair are central to The Drift – focusing on the desire to reassemble and rebuild. Quietly underpinning the film is the urgency of archaeology in the Middle East today, particularly with reference to the destruction and preservation of heritage sites across Syria and Lebanon. Brennan’s film maps converging lines between the protected relics of ancient temples, smuggled antiquities and exchanged car parts, exploring the care, circulation and shifting value of objects.
Informed by long-term investigative research, Brennan’s practice examines the historical and political resonance of materials and places. Creating intimacy through proximity with her subjects, she gathers anecdotal evidence to animate sites and narratives. The Drift builds on Brennan’s previous works, such as Jerusalem Pink (2015), which looks at the role of stone in Palestine in relation to her great-grandfather’s work on the architectural restoration of the Dome of the Rock (1917-37), and Core Sample (2012), which surveys the political and geological strata latent within contested materials.
Through observing the intertwined identities, unregulated economies and shared resistance felt across the densely layered archaeological and urban sites of Lebanon, The Drift explores the politics of conflict through its material – and immaterial – residue.
Following the film’s premiere at Chisenhale Gallery there will be subsequent presentations of the work at Spike Island, Bristol (9 July – 17 September, 2017), The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, and Lismore Castle Arts (both 2017-18).
Screening times: The film is 51 minutes and screenings at Chisenhale Gallery begin on the hour from 12pm, with the last screening at 5pm.
Maeve Brennan (born 1990, London) lives and works in London and Beirut. Recent exhibitions include Jerusalem Pink, OUTPOST, Norwich; Rough House, The Glue Factory, Glasgow; At the Seams: A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery, Dar el Nimer, Beirut (all 2016); KURZ / DUST, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Video Works, Metropolis Empire Sofil, Beirut (both 2015); and A Museum of Immortality, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2014). Brennan was a fellow of the arts study programme, Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut (2013 -14).
The Drift is produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol and commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore.
The Drift is supported by The Arab Fund For Arts and Culture – AFAC and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.
The exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by the Maeve Brennan Supporters Circle, with thanks to May Calil.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme 2017-19 is supported by the LUMA Foundation.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Curatorial Trainee Programme 2016-18 is supported by Sirine and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Talks & Events Programme 2017 is supported by Helen Thorpe.
- Friday 19 May
An early morning viewing of Maeve Brennan’s exhibition with an introduction to the work by Rachael Baskeyfield, Offsite and Education Assistant at Chisenhale Gallery. Coffee and cakes are generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute. Free to attend, no booking required.
All events are free to attend, unless otherwise stated, but booking is strongly advised. Please visit chisenhale.eventbrite.co.uk or ask at the front desk to make a reservation.
BSL interpretation for events at Chisenhale Gallery is available on request. Please contact email@example.com for further information. Please be advised that two weeks’ notice is required in order to confirm an interpreter.Thursday 11 May
Selected and introduced by Sharna Pax, a screening of Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000, 85’) is presented in association with MUBI. Shot near the Iran-Iraq border, Blackboards centres on a group of displaced teachers, who wander the mountains of Kurdish Iran, and the itinerant communities they encounter. Sharna Pax is a film collective that works between the fields of visual art, anthropology and documentary and comprises Maeve Brennan, Therese Henningsen and Tinne Zenner. MUBI is an online, curated cinema. In association with Brennan’s exhibition, MUBI are offering Chisenhale audiences a month free at mubi.com/chisenhale.
There will be a screening of ‘The Drift’ at 6pm prior to this event. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Friday 5 May
Maeve Brennan is joined in conversation by Dr Paul Newson, Department of History and Archaeology, American University of Beirut, and Laura Jones, Culture in Crisis programme, V&A to discuss the destruction of cultural heritage in conflict zones, the value of preservation and illicit trade. This event is organised in conjunction with the V&A’s Culture in Crisis programme, and moderated by Salma Tuqan, Contemporary Middle East Curator, V&A.Advance tickets for this event are now fully booked. There will be a limited number of free tickets on the door, available on a first come, first served basis.Saturday 22 April
Previous moving image works by Maeve Brennan, Super Mechanical (17’, 2012) and Jerusalem Pink (40’, 2016), are screened in our studio space. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Tuesday 18 April
Amara Thornton, Honorary Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL), discusses Maeve Brennan’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery. Drawing on her work on the UCL Filming Antiquity project, Thornton reflects on the preservation and circulation of archaeological artefacts, knowledge and narratives. There will be a screening of ‘The Drift’ at 6pm prior to this event. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Tuesday 4 April
Maeve Brennan and Erika Balsom, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at King’s College London, discuss Brennan’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery, with reference to experimental documentary film practice and its presentation within the gallery context. There will be a screening of ‘The Drift’ at 6pm prior to this event. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.
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