FRAGMENTS is a book that presents a performance by Rayyane Tabet recounting the tale of Max von Oppenheim’s archeological dig that took place in the village of Tell Halaf, Northeast Syria at the turn of the 20th century, nested within the story of the artist’s great-grandfather, Faek Borkhoche, who was appointed by the governing authorities of the French Mandate stationed in Beirut as von Oppenheim’s secretary to gather information on the excavations the latter was conducting, and a yellow book that first sparked these investigations (which also serves as the inspiration for the form of this catalogue).
The artworks examining this history—connecting the personal with the geopolitical and the early 20th century with the present day—are threaded through the narrative, transforming artifacts through subjective histories. FRAGMENTS includes a performance, drawings, sculptures, personal belongings and ready- mades which, together, become a multifaceted large installation. Against the backdrop of complex contemporary geopolitics, Tabet reconstructs the material remains of the Tell Halaf palace, tracks stone reliefs scattered in museums around the world, and assembles carpet fragments. Following the deconstruction and reconstruction of remains through the accidents of history, across time, generations and continents, the project draws on autobiographical notes and self-directed research, to explore stories that offer an alternative understanding of major events through individual narratives.
Throughout the book, Tabet raises questions on the survival of heirlooms, the preservation of archeological artifacts, cultural appropriation, museological practices, and migration patterns.
The 1st bilingual (EN/DE) edition was published in 2018 by Kunstverein in Hamburg, DAAD Artists in Berlin Program and Kaph Books
The 2nd trilingual (EN/FR/AR) edition was published in 2019 by Sharjah Art Foundation, Carré d’Art Nîmes and Kaph Books