Spike Island presents this major new film commission by London- and Beirut-based artist Maeve Brennan. The film is produced by Spike Island, Bristol and Chisenhale Gallery, London, and commissioned by Spike Island; Chisenhale Gallery; 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 – with a focus 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.
July 8-Sept 17, Tue-Sun 12-5pm. free. Preview: Friday, July 7, 6-9pm. For more info, visit www.spikeisland.org.uk/events/exhibitions/maeve-brennan-solo-exhibition