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Film Screening: Maeve Brennan

The Drift

Film Screening: Maeve Brennan

The Drift

Maeve Brennan, The Drift (2017) Film still



Until 11 June Spike Island streamed Maeve Brennan’s 2017 film commission, The Drift, which traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon.

The Drift was 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.

The Drift is the result of an ongoing partnership between arts organisations supporting artists to produce ambitious new film commissions.  Brennan’s film could be viewed on both Spike Island and Chisenhale Gallery’s websites until 11 June 2020.

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.

Installation view: A screen shows cars in a junkyard in a sandy environment.

Learn more about Maeve Brennan’s exhibition at Spike Island (8 July to 17 September 2017)

Read more

Listen to Maeve Brennan discussing The Drift with Sheyma Buali, Director of BBC Arabic Festival


Maeve Brennan

Maeve Brennan is an artist and filmmaker based in London. Her work has been exhibited and screened internationally. Recent exhibitions include Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; MOMENTA: Biennale de l’Image, Montreal; Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin; Jerwood Space, London; Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; The Whitworth, University of Manchester; Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art in Turku, Finland and Dar el Nimer, Beirut. Her films have screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam; FILMADRID; Sheffield Doc Fest and Sonic Acts, Amsterdam. Brennan graduated from Goldsmiths in 2012 and was a fellow at the Home Workspace Programme at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2013–14). She received the Jerwood/FVU Award 2018 and is the Stanley Picker Art & Design Fellow (2019–21).

Partners and Supporters

The Drift was produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Spike Island, Bristol and commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Spike Island; The Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore.

The Drift was supported by The Arab Fund For Arts and Culture – AFAC and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.