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The Digger and The Disquiet

Twelve Gates Arts presents a screening of Ali Cherri’s films, The Digger and The Disquiet, followed by a dialogue/intervention between Curator Atteqa Ali (in person) and the artist (Live video stream) at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia. This event is organized in conjunction with the exhibition, “Back to the Future: History and Contemporary Art in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia” at Twelve Gates in Philadelphia.

Information on the participants:

Ali Cherri is a video and visual artist based in Beirut and Paris. His recent solo exhibitions include Somniculus at Jeu de Paume, Paris and CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux (2017); Tretyakov Gallery Moscow (Sep. 2017); Galerie Imane Farès (Oct. 2017); Jönköpings läns museum, Sweden (2017); Sursock Museum, Beirut (2016). He is the recipient of Harvard University’s Robert E. Fulton Fellowship (2016) and Rockefeller Foundation Award (2017).

Atteqa Ali is Associate Professor of Art History at Zayed University, Dubai. She obtained her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She has curated several exhibitions on contemporary art from Pakistan and other countries in the Islamic world, including Hear Me Roar: New Art from Bangladesh, Iran, and Pakistan at the Jamjar Gallery Dubai. In November 2014, she presented an exhibition that examines the impact of technology on the development of art in the MENASA region as part of the 20th Annual International Symposium on Electronic Art in Dubai for which she served as the Exhibitions Director.

Information on the films:

The Digger
Arabic and Pashto with English subtitles, 24’, 2015 - Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation
For twenty years, Sultan Zeib Khan has kept watch over a ruined Neolithic necropolis in the Sharjah desert in the United Arab Emirates. Although majestic, the wide-angle shots have no monumentalizing intent: the beauty and extent of the site speak for themselves. What is playing out here is the possibility for one man to become part of a landscape that overwhelms him yet seems to need his help. Seen under the silhouette of a rock about to devour him or as a dwarfed figure spade in hand walking from the back of the frame, Sultan curiously busies himself from day to day to prevent the ruins… from falling into ruin. Hamlet’s words in the famous gravedigger scene come to mind: “Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He sings at grave-making.” But here the human remains have long since become archaeological artefacts: the highly luminous outside sequences alternate with shots inside a museum where the bones are sorted and laid out for the visitor’s eye. The switching between day and night but also the soundscape of the man’s singing and the sound of his transistor radio suggest that even the greatest solitude can allow itself to be inhabited. Above all, it underlines the paradox of these empty tombs, where death is compounded by the absence of the relics. (Charlotte Garson)

HD, Color, 20min, Stereo, French/English - 2013
Earth-shattering events are relatively par for the course in Lebanon, with war, political upheaval and a number of social revolts. While the Lebanese focus on surface level events that could rock the nation, few realize that below the ground we walk on, an actual shattering of the earth is mounting. Lebanon stands on several major fault lines, which are cracks in the earth’s crust. The film investigates the geological situation in Lebanon, trying to look for the traces of the imminent disaster.

Later Event: November 2
Artissima 2017