Middle East & Africa

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Zig Zag Au Fil Du Temps / Zig Zag Over Time Collège de France

Produced for the Prix Marcel Duchamp and presented at the Centre Pompidou in October 2017, the installation Unconformities 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.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige collaborate as both filmmakers and artists, producing cinematic and visual artwork that intertwine, spanning feature and documentary films, video and photographic installations, sculpture, performance lectures and texts. For the last 15 years, they have focused on the images, representations and history of their home country, Lebanon, and questioned the fabrication of imaginaries in the region and beyond. Together, they have directed documentaries such as Khiam 2000-2007 (2008) and El Film el Mafkoud (The Lost Film) (2003) and feature films such as Al Bayt el Zaher (1999) and A Perfect Day (2005). Their most recent feature film, Je Veux Voir (I Want to See), starring Catherine Deneuve and Rabih Mroue, premiered at the Cannes film festival in 2008. Each work is often the result of several years of development, seeing their role as researchers as an integral element of their practice, while equally drawing upon personal, lived experience as a source of inspiration.