Following its initial presentation at Paris’ Pompidou Centre for which they were awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2017, French-Lebanese artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, present their latest project Unconformities at the Acropolis Museum. It is a mixed media installation, an amalgam of soil and rocks, stories and secrets of three historic cities that haunt the two artists: Athens, Beirut and Paris.
Through Unconformities, we descend to the substrata of these three cities. What can we learn from the Athenian shale, the alluvial deposits of Kifissos, the rich archaeological strata in Monastiraki, Kerameikos and Elaionas, or from Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square and the parafluvial Seine deposits in the wider Louvre area. “Digging into the past we discover the present,” explain the two artists who, for the past four years, they have been collaborating with geologists, archaeologists and historians in order to collect, reconstitute and exhibit findings of geological drilling.
In this exhibition, 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.
The two artists construct transcendental narratives about the uncharted eras, vacillating, as they often do, between documentary and fiction. They employ a different, nonlinear approach to history; history as incident and action, a palimpsest of ages and cultures.
The exhibition is part of the 5th Onassis Fast Forward Festival which sets out in search of temporal rifts in the liminal zones between myth and testimony, experience and imagination.
The exhibition runs through May 16 and it is free for the public.