The Drift

Brennan, Maeve
Informed by long term investigative research, Maeve 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. In The Drift (2017), Brennan traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon. The film follows the gatekeeper of the Roman temples of Niha in the Beqaa Valley; a young mechanic from Britel and an archaeological conservator working at the American University of Beirut. Combining documentary footage with staged scenes, the work depicts layered histories and communities. The Drift documents 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 work, 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.
  • Artwork Details: running time: 50 minutes 29seconds
  • Edition: 2 of 5 + 2 AP
  • Material description: HD video with sound
  • Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of Chisenhale Gallery.
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC13/2017



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