Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Time Capsules (Collège de France B4)
Produced for the Prix Marcel Duchamp and presented at the Centre Pompidou in October 2017, the installation Uncomformities is comprised of photographs, archaeological drawings, and narratives, based on the analysis of core samples from different sites in Beirut, Paris and Athens. The work questions how, at a time when traces and memories no longer exist, and the earth remains the only witness of our past, history is produced, and how the stories of our civilization are written and told. In each location, the artists collected soil samples, which they asked experts to analyze before creating a series of narrations and coded drawings. Materials from the core samples, as deep as 40 meters in some cases, revealed ancient civilizations and geological and ecological disasters. Yet these cores represent a moment that will soon no longer exist, these stories will be erased by the manifold constructions that will be erected atop them.
The cores in the city center of Beirut reveal environmental catastrophes such as a Tsunami as well as the series of urban choices and constructions made by the Hariri family and their Solidere construction company. The cores in the College de France reveal Roman ruins and old cemeteries, while samples from Athens’s center show traces of Persian ruins used for the construction of modern cities.
We might talk about “uncomformity”, a technical term that designates a break in the sedimentary geologic record, signifying an age gap or a temporal rupture. It is a hiatus that tells us a lot about the way we represent history as linearity and the way we can study the evolution of the earth and big changes that we witness. It is important to note, that in the era of the Anthropocene, these are read as human actions, and not layers or strata.