Changing Hands: Objects on the Move
Curated by Akram Zaatari08 Dec 2021
The event is over
Objects change function and consequently change value and status over time. They are sometimes sent to storage, sold or bought, buried or trafficked and, eventually, get extracted from larger constellations or a living fabric. Objects thus change hands, which adds to their biographies. They are displaced, gifted, studied copied and reproduced or exhibited.
This symposium looks at the mechanisms that accompany these shifts in property and value through artist’s works. From Nefertiti’s bust as plotted by Jean-Christophe Bailly, to the occupation of Palestinian Territories as explained by Avi Mograbi, lies a trip back and forth in time and geography, across media. We talk about afterlives of objects, about who is the museum, when is perpetuity, and what do we find moving in all of these shift?
As part of the doctoral program of the École nationale supérieure d’arts de Paris-Cergy, Graduate School Humanities, Creation and Heritage
Morning (In French, simultaneous English translation)
• Welcome, by Marcella Lista (Chief Curator, New Media Arts Department, National Museum of Modern Art/Centre Pompidou).
• Introduction,by Akram Zaatari (artist, PhD candidate, École nationale supérieure d'arts de Paris-Cergy).
Session : La XVIIIe Dynastie à Berlin / Mapping the location of archaeological objects
• Bénédicte Savoy (professor of modern art history at the Technical University of Berlin), Mapping the location of archaeological objects, 30 minutes.
Thirty-two years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, Benedicte Savoy looks at the recent history of the busts of Nefertiti and Anches-En-Pa-Aton. Savoy looks at the desire of the present to reconcile the past..
• Jean-Christophe Bailly (former professor at the École nationale supérieure de la nature et du paysage), La XVIIIe Dynastie à Berlin, 30 minutes.
In 1981 Jean Christophe Bailly located the ancient Egyptian busts of Nefertiti and her daughter Anches-En-Pa-Aton in two different museums in Berlin, on the two sides of the Berlin wall. He tries to verify if their eyes met across the wall. He would have erected a monument for their reconciliation, but he realizes that the two busts were looking in different directions that don’t meet.
• Discussion, 20 minutes
Screening of The Mummy, Shadi Abdessalam, 1969 (Restored version with French subtitles, simultaneous English translation).
• Introduction by Akram Zaatari
• Projection, The Mummy, Shadi Abdessalam, 1969, 102 minutes
Based on the actual discovery of a large cache of royal mummies in Dayr Al-Bahri, Egypt in 1881, Night of the Counting Years / The Mummy opens in Cairo at a meeting of the antiquities authorities. Mr. Maspero, the committee’s chairman, alerts his staff to the recent appearance on the antiquities market of objects that appear to have been raided from a tomb whose locations had been previously known to archaeologists. Ahmed Kamal, a dedicated member of the committee, travels upriver to Thebes to discover the location of the secret tomb and protect its contents from the tomb raider.
Lunch break: 1:45pm-3pm
Session : Tracing (In English, simultaneous French translation)
• Introduction by Akram Zaatari
• Amie Siegel (artist), Provenance, 60 minutes
Siegel reflects on her three-part installation entitled Provenance, 2013, which focuses on an emblem of mid-century modernist design – the chairs, desks, and furniture designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret for the controversial modernist, post-colonial city of Chandigarh, India. The main video Provenance reveals the now-rarified status of this originally utilitarian furniture. Beginning with the furniture’s present circumstances – decorating wealthy homes in London, Paris, Antwerp, New York, and beyond – the film traces the furniture’s journey in reverse chronology, through warehouses, on display at American and European auctions, at a furniture restorer, on a cargo ship and, finally, back to its origins in Chandigarh. The session includes the screening of Provenance, and of LOT 248, which are the film parts of the installation.
• Rayyane Tabet (artist), Alien Property, 2020, 30 minutes
Tabet comments on his exhibition Alien Property, which tells the story of the ninth-century B.C. stone reliefs excavated in the early twentieth century at Tell Halaf, Syria and their subsequent destruction, loss, or dispersal to museum collections around the world. Examining the circuitous journey four of these reliefs took to arrive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York under the aegis of the World War II-era Alien Property Custodian Act, the presentation also highlights the very personal connection of the reliefs to contemporary artist Rayyane Tabet.
• Patricia Falguières (professor at the l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales de Paris), Expropriation. Perpétuité, 20 minutes
A museum is not a collection or a collection of collections. It is an institution: an artefact with a singular legal regime. Its advent in pre-capitalist Europe was not made without clashes and tears. The tensions that accompanied its installation in European culture are felt today in the debate on colonial predation, but they largely predate it. Revisiting them could open up new avenues for our reflection.
• Discussion, 30 minutes
Screening and conversation about the film by Avi Mograbi, The First 54 Years: an Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation (in English, simultaneous French translation)
• Screening of the film by Avi Mograbi, The First 54 Years: an Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation, 2021, 110 minutes (English and Hebrew).
What is the meaning of military occupation? Through the testimonies of the soldiers who implemented it, director Avi Mograbi provides insights on how a colonialist occupation works and the logic at work behind those practices. Using the 54-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip the director draws us a “Manual for Military Occupation”.
• Conversation whith Avi Mograbi, and discussion, 60 minutes
Despite having directed only one long feature film, Shadi Abdel Salam is considered one of the most important Egyptian directors, and his reputation has transcended local borders to international fame. In 1964 Abdel Salam worked for of Joseph Mankiewiz on the set of Cleopatra and in 1967 he conceived the set and costumes for Roberto Rossellini’s Mankind’s Fight for Survival. The influence of Rossellini on Abdel Salam seems to have surpassed the influence of any of the other directors, for it was after the completion of this film that Abdel Salam decided to become a director. Not only did Rossellini encourage him to become a director, but he also helped Salam execute his first project, Al Momia/The Night of Counting the Years, which stands out as one of the greatest Egyptian masterpieces of all time.
Writer, poet and playwright, Jean-Christophe Bailly is the author of several books that are divided between various genres, with the exception of the novel. Stories, poetry, theater and especially essays, form a multiple and open work but whose poem – the idea of the poem – constitutes the active heart. The essays deal with the arts but also with the animal question and urban forms, as well as with language. His publications include L'Élargissement du poème (Bourgois, 2016), Saisir (quatre aventures galloises) (Seuil, 2018), Tuiles détachées (Christian Bourgois, 2018), L'Imagement (Seuil, 2020), Naissance de la Phrase (Nous, 2020).
Patricia Falguières is Professor at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris. She has published numerous essays on Renaissance philosophy and art, classifications, indexes and the birth of the museum in modern Europe (Les Chambres des merveilles, Paris, 2003), and mannerism (Le Maniérisme: Une avant-garde au XVIᵉ siècle, Paris, 2004). She has published the French Edition of Ernst Kris, Le Style rustique (Paris, 2005), and Julius von Schlosser's classic, Les cabinets d'art et de merveilles de la renaissance tardive (Paris, 2012). Her current research focuses on Renaissance technè, the inclusion of artistic practices in the Aristotelian order of knowing and making, and architectural theory.
With a PhD in Art History, Marcella Lista is, since 2016, Chief Curator of the New Media Collection at the National Museum of Modern Art/Centre Pompidou, Paris. She has devoted research work to the visual culture of sound. Her work also deals, more broadly, with experimental artistic practices involving film and video, installation, dance and performance. She was previously Associate Professor in History of Art in Université de Limoges and Head of Programs of the Auditorium of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where she has notably launched a series of contemporary art projects. She has published : “Noter les seuils de l’écoute : entretien avec Lawrence Abu Hamdan”, Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne, Hors-série 2017 "Notations", and the exhibition catalogue, Ryoji Ikeda: continuum, Paris, Editions Xavier Barral, 2018. She has curated exhibitions in the following centres: Beirut Art Center, Beirut; Carré d’Art, Nîmes; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kanal-Centre Pompidou, Brussels; and for the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2018.
Israeli filmmaker and video artist Avi Mograbi was born in 1956 in Tel Aviv. He studied art and philosophy in Tel Aviv, where he lives today. After gathering his first experience assisting directors, his own filmmaking began in 1989. Since 1999 he also teaches documentary and experimental filmmaking at the University of Tel Aviv, and at Jerusalem’s Sam Spiegel Film and Television School and art academy. Avi Mograbi is not only considered Israel’s most important documentarist, but also – as a committed eyewitness of the Middle East conflict, an experimentalist, and avid reformist of cinematic language. As a political filmmaker he is also actively involved in “Breaking the Silence“, an organization of ex-soldiers dedicated to collecting testimonies about their service.
His films have appeared at festivals worldwide. Z32 (2008) received the Excellence Award at Yamagata Film Festival. Avenge But One of My Blue Eyes (2005) was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and received the Amnesty Award as well as special mention at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
Bénédicte Savoy has held a full professorship (W3) in the Department of Art History at the Technische Universität Berlin since 2009, where she currently serves as the head of the Chair for Modern Art History/Art History as Cultural History. Formerly a student in the Department of Humanities at the École normale supérieure (ENS), Paris/Fontenay, she received her M.A. in German Studies from the université Paris 8 in 1994 and her Ph.D. under the supervision of Pr. Michel Espagne (CNRS Paris) in 2000. She has published widely on topics related to her three main fields of research, art and the transfer of culture in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, museum and collection history, and art theft and looted art.
Amie Siegel (b. 1974, Chicago, IL) works variously between film, video, photography, performance and installation. Recent solo exhibitions include Medium Cool, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston; Winter, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Strata, South London Gallery; Ricochet, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart; Double Negative, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; Provenance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Her work is in public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern; Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Siegel has been a fellow of the DAAD Berliner-Künstlerprogramm and the Guggenheim Foundation and is a 2021 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award recipient. Siegel lives in New York City.
Rayyane Tabet is an artist who lives and works in Beirut. Drawing from experience and self-directed research, Tabet explores stories that offer an alternative understanding of major socio-political events through individual narratives. Informed by his training in architecture and sculpture, his work investigates paradoxes in the built environment and its history by way of installations that reconstitute the perception of physical and temporal distance. His recent and upcoming shows include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Parasol Unit in London, The Louvre in Paris, Carré d’Art in Nîmes, Kunstverein in Hamburg, and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. His work was featured in Manifesta 12, the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the 15th Istanbul Biennial, the 32nd São Paulo Biennial, the 6th Marrakech Biennale, the 10th & 12th Sharjah Biennial, and the 2nd New Museum Triennial.
Akram Zaatari has developed an interdisciplinary practice that combines the roles of image-maker, archivist, curator, and critical theorist. He is concerned with notions of desire, resistance, memory, surveillance, and – in particular – with the production and circulation of images during wartime. Delving in photography, film, video, installation, and performance, he has built a complex body of work that explores self-documentation and the current state of image making. Zaatari is especially interested in the Lebanese postwar condition, particularly the televised mediation of territorial conflicts and wars, and the logic of religious and national resistance. Through the appropriation and exhibition of documents and image archives, he invites us to rethink what it means to witness, survive or document a war. Some of his works are based on his own collection and study of middle-eastern photographic history: archival images that comprise a valuable record of social relations, representations of male sexuality, and photographic practices of the region. In addition to his own archival work, Akram Zaatari is a founding member of the Arab Image Foundation, which aims to collect, study and disseminate the photographic heritage of Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. He is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School, Humanities, Creation and Heritage, under the supervision of François Pernot, CY Cergy Paris Université, in co-supervision with Bénédicte Savoy, Tecchinische Universität Berlin, and Alejandra Riera, École nationale supérieure d'arts de Paris-Cergy (EnsaPC).
Many thanks to: Art Explora, le Festival d’Automne à Paris, Cineteca di Bologna and Les Films d’Ici, and also the Galleries Thomas Dane (Londres) and Sfeir Semler (Hamburg / Beyrouth) for their support. This program was supported by l’École universitaire de recherche humanité, création, patrimoine (PSGS-HCH) “Investissement d’Avenir ANR-17-EURE-0021”.
10am - 8pm
Jean-Christophe Bailly, La XVIIIe dynastie à Berlin, 1981, lithograph on paper
Courtesy Atelier Bordas éditeur/Michael Woolworth.