FFF5 | Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

FFF5 | Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige


Onassis Fast Forward Festival 5–Athens

2-16 MAY 2018

Mon: 8:00-16:00
Tue -Thu: 8:00-20:00
Fri: 8:00-22:00
Sat-Sun: 8:00-20:00
Acropolis Museum
It is for the third time that OCC invites the distinguished French-Lebanese pair, this time for their project “Unconformities” at the Acropolis Museum, following its initial presentation at Centre Pompidou in Paris for which they were awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp (2017). “Unconformities” is a mixed media installation, an amalgam of soil and rocks, stories and secrets of three historic cities.
Free admission
Athens, Beirut, Paris: three cities that haunt the two artists, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. Through Unconformities, we descend to the substrata of these three cities: to what we can learn from the Athenian shale, the alluvial deposits of Kifissos, and the rich archaeological strata in Monastiraki, Kerameikos and Elaionas, from Martyrs’ Square in Beirut and the parafluvial Seine deposits in the wider Louvre area. “Digging into the past we discover the present,” say the two artists who have for four years been collaborating with geologists, archaeologists and historians to collect, reconstitute and exhibit findings of geological drilling.

Imagine then a contemporary art exhibition made up of natural geological materials, soil and ruins from the substratum of these three cities, placed cylinders called “borehole cores”. Hadjithomas and Joreige turn their eye to tectonic discontinuities and most of all to stratigraphic unconformities. This is where, in the wealth of information available in the substrata, a stratigraphic gap intervenes, a secret past that has left no trace but plenty of room for imagination. The two artists construct transcendental narratives about these uncharted eras, vacillating, as they often do, between documentary and fiction. The latent and tacit concepts, i.e. what can be derived from the context, are central to their work. A different, nonlinear approach to history is made possible: history as incident and action, a palimpsest of ages and cultures.

A contemporary art exhibition is presented at the Acropolis Museum for the first time,
an international coproduction of the Onassis Cultural Centre, shown at Centre Pompidou
last year and awarded with the Prix Marcel Duchamp. “An archaeology of memory in the heart of a perennially troubled present” was a comment on Unconformities, this profound museum of Athens, Beirut and Paris, which encompasses both prehistory and our own geological age, what we call Anthropocene, the era in during which our species has proved to be ten times as catastrophic as all natural phenomena combined.

In Unconformities, the city reveals itself in terms of place and time. Veins of  clay or copper come to light and become tokens of a different, more moral, poetic and ecopolitical geology, archaeology and eventual self-discovery. Beneath our feet, hidden in the gut of the city, lies a subterranean world full of traces of natural phenomena, ancient settlements, contemporary constructions and deconstructions, impressive foundations and devastating wars.


Coring: Edrafor, Attiko Metro, Bureau Sols Consultant
Drawings: Marie Doucedame, Sandrine Duval Laugier, Emilie Lesvignes, Elodie Moreno, Marthe Mulkey, Roland Nespoulet
Post Production photo: Dorine Potel, Nadim Zablit, -scope Ateliers
Archaeologists: Hadi Choueri, Julien Avinain, Anastasia Kioussi
Geologists: Milena Frouin, Maria Benissi, Issam Bou Jaoudé
Assistants: Diane Mehanna, Clémence Condemi, Dimitra Bouzani, Steven Daly
Studio de production / Production: Factum Arte, Sebas Beyro, Adam Lowe
Film / Image: Talal Khoury, Joe Saadé, Khalil Joreige, Julien Hirsch.
Editing: Tina Baz.
Sound : Rana Eid (Studio DB),
Music: Charbel Haber, The Bunny Tyler.
Grading: Belal Hibri, Lucid.
Microscopic images: Ian Walker, Bernardo Cesare
Line Production on behalf of the OCC: Dimitra Bouzani

Awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize 2017, organized by ADIAF in partnership with the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris)

Coproduced by Onassis Culture/FFF

With the support of: Noirmontartproduction (Paris), Saradar Collection (Beirut), Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation (Amman), Laurent Dumas and Fonds de dotation Emerige (Paris), Robert Matta (Beirut), Galerie In Situ - fabienne leclerc (Paris)

Courtesy of Galerie In Situ - fabienne leclerc (Paris) and The Third Line (Dubai)

In collaboration with the Acropolis Museum

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Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: both born in Beirut in 1969, are filmmakers and visual artists, “researchers and dreamers” in their own words, that have lived and worked together since the late 1990s.
The installation Unconformities is composed of three parts: the Time Capsules, sculptures that fix the findings of the drills in a transparent resin specially developed by the artists, the film Palimpsestes, which documents the processes used in various Beirut excavations, and finally the frieze-like Zig Ζag Over Time that describes the cores using three artistic mediums: photography, drawing and text.

 As the geologist and project scientific contributor Mania Benisi remarks, “the geomaterials displayed in Unconformities are borehole cores, i.e. products of drilling conducted in Athens, Beirut and Paris to test the subsoil, due to anticipated underground public works (e.g. the Athenian metro). In geological terms, these soil and rock samples can offer valuable data about the past before they are discarded. The geologists and archaeologists find in them information about natural phenomena (seismicity, tectonics, floods and erosion) as well as human intervention: remnants of ancient settlements, ancient underground constructions and contemporary foundations, demolition materials and attempts to bury urban waste. Based on evidence, experts construct a chronostratigraphic column/chart and file the “record” of every sample core. In the case of unconformities, i.e. when between layers of subsoil there exist stratigraphic gaps of an uncertain, hidden past that has left no trace behind, the interpretation “is derived from the contest or questions arise.” 

The collaboration of the two artists with OCC begun in 2012, when as part of the Meeting Points 6 festival, they presented the performance-speech Aida, Save Me, based on an unusual incident that occured during the premiere of their award winning film Α Perfect Day.
In 2013, Hadjithomas and Joreige were among the artists invited by the OCC and The Cavafy Archive to draw inspiration from the Alexandrian poet’s life and oeuvre. Taking his poem Waiting for the Barbarians as a starting point, they produced an eponymous short film, as part of their series I Stared at Beauty so Much (2013).

Remarks on Unconformities

“An archaeology of memory in the heart of a perennially troubled present” Bernard Blistène, President of the Marcel Duchamp Prix committee and director of Centre Pompidou.
With a poetic gesture, they equally embrace sculpture and painting, photography and video and attempt a convocation/caucus of various disciplines – archaeology, history, geology – while challenging the concepts of temporality and linearity.” Serge Lasvignes, president of Centre Pompidou.

“A major anthropocentric work that can be read from top to bottom, or from left to right depending on whether we want to go from “nature” to “civilization” or the other way around.” Bruno Latour, philosopher, anthropologist, sociologist. 

“The work of Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige is a practice of revelation, not a spiritual revelation that would make a fetish out of historical remains, but a revelation of the latent and the invisible, similar to the process of developing photogrpahs. Here these contemporary “dust breedings” open up a breach in official history, trigger relationships in scale and collision in time and express the urgency in understanding today’s plurivocal world.” Clément Dirié

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Awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize 2017

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