Thunderbird, In the Soldier's Head, The Square, & Deep Sleep
Christine Rebet & Basma Alsharif
Cinémathèque Robert-Lynen, Paris
Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Christine Rebet, Tree Dance/Thunderbird, 2017. Ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York
Christine Rebet's hand-drawn animations (shot on 16mm and 35mm film) restage the optical illusions and pre-cinematic entertainment landscape, underscoring similar deceptive devices in contemporary politics and media. Whether referring to the political and spiritual experiments of the early 20th century, or the most current affairs in the Middle East, the artist draws telling parallels between the devices of mass media and oppressive regimes.These troubling apparitions, brought through Rebet's witty and poetic depiction, seem to exorcize the traumas of personal and collective history.
In the Soldier's Head and Thunderbird evoke the traumas of war respectively through the prism of the hallucinations of a soldier, and the recent destruction of major archaeological sites in the Middle East as well as the appearance of a deity heralding predictions evoking the Mesopotamian rites to provide protection and posterity for sovereigns and their peoples. For Thunderbird, the artist teamed up with an archaeologist from the British Museum in London, in charge of the "Iraq Scheme Program" training Iraqi archaeologists in state-of-the-art conservation technologies to restore damaged sites. In the film, the god Ningirsu in the guise of a winged avatar with a lion's head ("Thunderbird") orders King Gudea to build his temple through a dream. Responding to these two films, The Square recreates Samuel Beckett's television ballet and the quadrilateral repetition of the protagonists' movements, replaced here by residues of metal, wood, and plaster evoking constructions while the model of the public square invokes the gatherings and revolts having recently taken place.
In dialogue with these works, the artist invites Basma Alsharif to present Deep Sleep, a poetic and sound meditation on mental movements. The artist, prevented from going to Gaza for a while, practiced self-hypnosis in an attempt to locate herself in several places at once. "Deep Sleep draws from the historical avant-garde cinema to produce an invitation to move through a body as a body, to transcend geographical borders in a collective act that discards memory in exchange for a visceral present." In 2014 the film won the International Competition award at VideoEx, Zurich.
Born in Lyon, Christiane Rebet lives and works in New York. She graduated from Columbia University (New York) and Central Saint Martins School (London). She has recently exhibited at Bureau, New York; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort; Sculpture Center, New York; Fondation Cartier, Paris; Le Magasin, Grenoble. Her films have been screened in the following festivals: the Berlinale, the Kassel Festival, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the Hollywood Hookah in Los Angeles, and the London Film Festival.
Basma Alsharif is an artist and filmmaker born in Koweit of Palestinian origin, raised between France, the USA, and the Gazah Band. Graduated from the Illinois University, she develops her nomadic practice, centered on the human condition in relation to changing geopolitical landscapes and natural environment, between Chicago, Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, the Gazah Band, and Paris. She has exhibited at the Whitney Biennial (New York), the Rencontres d'Arles, the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), the New Museum (New York), the Sharjah Biennial, and Manifesta 8. Basma Alsharif is represented by Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, and her film work is distributed by Video Data Bank and Arsenal.