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.