Excavation 1: 'Thunderbird'

In our first installment—Excavation 1—we feature the work of Christine Rebet, an artist represented by Bureau, a contemporary art gallery approaching its 10-year anniversary this spring. The gallery was founded by Gabrielle Giattino, a graduate of Haverford College who majored in History of Art here at Bryn Mawr. Given Gabrielle’s connection to the Bryn Mawr community and to the History of Art Department, her participation in this inaugural episode is quite fitting and embodies the spirit of this experiment—to produce digital content that contributes to the enrichment of our shared mission beyond the confines of the physical campus. 

View the conversation with Rebet, Rey, and Giattino below.

Rebet is currently collaborating with Dr. Sebastien Rey, Curator of ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum and lead archaeologist of the British Museum’s Iraq Scheme, on a series of animated films and drawings that focus on the archeological excavation of a Sumerian temple located at Tello/ancient Girsu in southern Iraq where he is the site director. In the video that introduces the work, Rebet and Rey are joined by Giattino for an informal discussion about their collaboration on the animated film Thunderbird, which takes as its subject one of the key elements in the founding myth of the temple: the dream of Gudea. 

Rebet animates this sacred myth, which was found written into ancient terracotta cylinders, unlocking the narrative and spiritual potential within the clay. Thunderbird imagines a dialogue between King Gudea and Nanshe, Sumerian goddess of prophecy, whom Gudea summons to help interpret a dream. The animation comprises 2,500 hand-inked drawings, opening with thunder and rain clouds which blossom forth with flowering plants; the wet earth then churning with molten energy as the red sun rises over the landscape. Eventually we see hands mixing mud to make the bricks for building the sacred temple. 

Exhibition/Screening History: 
•    Time Levitation, Parasol Unit, London, 2020 
•    Collective Mythologies, Art Basel Film, Basel, 2019 
•    Despar Teatro Italia, Venice, 2019 
•    Nanterre-Amandiers, Nanterre, 2019 
•    Thunderbird, Bureau, New York, 2018 
•    Sursock Museum, Beirut, 2018 
•    Cinematheque Robert-Lynen, Paris, 2018 
•    Christine Rebet: Screening, Silencio, Paris, 2018 

Click here to view a Studio International interview with Christine Rebet.

Click here to learn more about the British Museum's Iraq Scheme.

Christine Rebet is an artist who works across a wide range of media that includes drawing, installation, performance and animation. Her work has been exhibited and screened in a wide range of galleries and museums including Parasol Unit, London, England; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; and SITE, Santa Fe, NM. Her works are held in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; KADIST, Paris, France; San Franciso, CA; and the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine, France.

Sebastien Rey is Curator of ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum and Lead archaeologist of the Iraq Scheme. He is the site director of Tello/ancient Girsu in southern Iraq. His most recent publications include a book on city-state formation in ancient Sumer (For the Gods of Girsu), and an essay written with Dr. Irving Finkel for the British Museum’s exhibit No Man’s Land. 

Bureau is a contemporary art gallery approaching its 10-year anniversary this spring. Gabrielle Giattino opened Bureau in 2010 following a curatorial partnership with Howie Chen called Dispatch. Bureau represents a close-knit group of artists from emerging to established, many of whom are featured in prominent international exhibitions, biennials and represented in numerous public collections. Many of these artists had previously worked with Dispatch, including Erica Baum, Tom Holmes, Lionel Maunz, and Ellie Ga. Upcoming projects include solo exhibitions at the gallery with Patricia Treib and Caleb Considine, as well as a solo presentation by Diane Severin Nguyen at Art Basel Statements later this year.

Click here to visit Excavation 2: Malpaso.

Click here to visit Excavation 3: Sayed.