Olivier Cablat, Egypt 3000
The Egypt 3000 project deals with the complex relationship between contemporary Egypt and its glorious past. The project began to take shape between October 2003 and June 2004, when I was working on a CNRS programme in Karnak, in the south of Egypt. The programme mainly consisted in identifying and photographing objects found in the course of archaeological digs. It also involved taking reportage shots of the various excavation and restoration activities going on around the Temple of Amun, as well as making complex digital montages to reconstitute the walls of the temple to serve as a study tool for the Egyptologists.
In parallel with this work, I was collecting a lot of images of everyday Egyptian objects, and these allowed me to continue with some artistic research that I had been working on earlier in the South of France.
My initial intention in the Egypt 3000 project was to base things on raw material from everyday life in contemporary Egypt, making no hierarchical judgements about its nature, and to apply the same treatment to it as scientific research does for ancient artefacts.
The project came together over a number of years, during and after my trip. These were years of construction, re-composition, and a search for a documentary form free of the systematic quality of a series and without the condescending aspect of typical “travel photography”.
The project ended up as three distinct sets: Towards a Contemporary Archaeology, Karnak/Luxor, 2004-2009 – these are reproductions of the objects found in Karnak and Luxor and they are given the same scientific treatment as ancient objects; secondly, 300 days and a day, 2003-2011, which is a documentary series relating 300 days of documentary research and containing a blend of typological series and complex digital photo-montages with post-Orientalist references; and thirdly, Enter the pyramid, 2006-2012, a digital documentary installation composed in HTML with a set of images found on the Internet using the keyword “pyramid”.
Exhibition venue: Forges, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2012.