The Centre Pompidou in Paris has awarded this year’s Prix Marcel Duchamp to Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
Each year, the prize recognises an artist working in France.
The prize has been awarded to Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige for Unconformities (2016), a mixed-media installation which references archeology through subsoil sampling techniques. The work, described by the president of the jury, Bernard Blistène, as “an archaeology of memory, at the core of an unfailingly troubled present”, draws on themes including memory, urban construction and history. Combining their Lebanese, Greek and French heritage, the artists “embody the complexity of intermingled histories where the buried past and the havoc of the present incessantly haunt their consciousness.”
Hailing from Lebanon, but splitting their time between Beirut and Paris, the duo Hadjithomas and Joreige create films and installations that explore the ways in which their home country has been represented within Western culture. The pair collaborate as both filmmakers and artists, using moving images and often appropriating archival materials, photographs, and film footage to reinforce their message about constructions and reality, blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction.
Together, the duo have directed documentaries such as Khiam 2000-2007 (2008), and feature films such as Al Bayt el Zaher (1999) and A Perfect Day (2005). In 2012 they presented their feature documentary The Lebanese Rocket Society, which told the story of the Lebanese space race.
On their selection, president of the Centre Pompidou Serge Lasvignes commented on the multidisciplinary nature of their work, which evades any “convenient” categorisation:
It poetically calls upon sculpture, drawing, photography or even video. It draws on the crisscrossing of knowledge – Archaeology, History, Geology… – while playing with temporalities and scales. The Centre Pompidou is the most appropriate place for these encounters, these collisions, this research. Here is where the sensitive and the intelligible expand our understanding; here the artist-become-researcher attempts to elucidate the present.
Established in 2000 by the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the prize is dedicated to recognising artistic output from France through honouring an artist representative of their generation. Alongside Hadjithomas and Joreige, artists Maja Bajevic, Charlotte Moth, and Vittorio Santoro were also nominated for the prize. Unconformities will be on view at the Centre Pompidou until 8 January 2018.
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