March 27, 2017 - Chisenhale Gallery - Maeve Brennan: The Drift
March 27, 2017

Chisenhale Gallery

Maeve Brennan, The Drift (still), 2017. HD video with sound, 51 minutes. Produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore. Courtesy of the artist.

Maeve Brennan
The Drift
March 31–June 4, 2017

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
London E3 5QZ
United Kingdom
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 12–6pm

T +44 20 8981 4518
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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 (July 9–September 17, 2017), The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, and Lismore Castle Arts (both 2017–18).

Screening times:
The film is 51 minutes and screenings 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).       

Exhibition events:

Maeve Brennan in conversation with Erika Balsom
Tuesday, April 4, 7pm
Maeve Brennan and Erika Balsom, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at King’s College, London, discuss Brennan’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery.

Amara Thornton on Maeve Brennan
Tuesday, April 18, 7pm
Amara Thornton, Honorary Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, University College of London (UCL), discusses Maeve Brennan’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery. 

Screening: Previous works by Maeve Brennan
Saturday, April 22, 2pm
Previous moving image works by Maeve Brennan, Super Mechanical (2012, 17 min) and Jerusalem Pink (2016, 40 min.), are screened in our adjunct studio space.

Maeve Brennan and Dr Paul Newson in conversation, as part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Culture in Crisis programme
Friday, May 5, 7pm
Clore Study Room, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Maeve Brennan is joined in conversation by Dr Paul Newson, Department of History and Archaeology, American University of Beirut, and Laura Jones, Culture in Crisis programme, V&A. This event is programmed in conjunction with the V&A’s Culture in Crisis series.

Screening: Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000)
Thursday, May 11, 7pm 
A screening of Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000, 85 min.) selected and introduced by film collective, Sharna Pax. Presented in association with MUBI. 

An early morning viewing of Maeve Brennan's exhibition
Friday, May 19, 9–10:30am
An early morning viewing of Maeve Brennan’s exhibition with an introduction to the work by Rachael Baskeyfield, Offsite and Education Assistant at Chisenhale Gallery. Coffee and cakes are generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute.

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; the Curatorial Trainee Programme 2016–18 is supported by Sirine and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh; and the Talks & Events Programme 2017 is supported by Helen Thorpe.

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