|Four Thousand Blocks, Three Channel Video, 23:40|
The highlight of the show is the video, shown in the back of the gallery. The screen on the right shows footage of typesetter’s letter case, to the left is of a darkroom in which the artist develops photographs, and the center screen contains footage of the artist’s journey towards understanding the mystery of remaining of the lighthouse. Ga is clearly interested in archival aspect of obtaining as much information of the remaining, with the aid off archeologists and natives of Pharos. In the center screen she uses a light-box and lays down transparencies of drawings, photographs, documents and other ephemera collected in Alexandria. In a way, Ga is trying to emulate the idea of a myth by layering images over each other. The central screen is like a storytelling device, and at the same time a diary entry from the use of both personal and historical memory.
While Ga narrates in the central screen, she continues to insert letter into the letterpress holder constructing text on the right screen. In the beginning of the video, Ga tells the story of Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, the inventor of writing and measurement of time as a lunar deity. The legend entails a dialogue between Thoth and the King of Egypt concerning Thoth’s invention of writing. He claimed “it will make humans wiser and improve their memories”. The recipe for memory has been discovered. The king replies, “ What you have discovered is not the recipe for memory, but the drug of reminding. With your invention they will be taught, but they will not be wise.” Alongside the video in the gallery, Pharmakon, a letterpress on paper is a text of the dialogue between them and a brief description of Thoth. Accompanying the piece, Projector Harbor, a gelatin silver print of dice, which also depicts Thoth invention of magic and dice. Adjacent to the photograph is the work It was Restored Again, which consisted of two slide projectors showcasing text and iconographical images of the history of Pharos of Alexandria.
|Projector Harbor, Gelatin Silver Print, 2013|
The theme of translation is evident in every piece in the exhibition especially seen in the three-channel video. Firstly Ga narrates about the various symbols that were carried on from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece. Secondly, the site in which the ruin once stood was a place of translation translating the bible into Greek. Thirdly, in her video, Ga conducts interviews with Egyptian archeologist in which translation became a problem.
Ellie Ga’s interest in lighthouses branched from her past work The Fortunetellers. In that work she began to trance the etymology of lighthouses leading her back to the island of Pharos in Egypt. Ga’s obsession with archives and the use of mythology, philosophy, and archaeology is entwined in all her pieces. During her voyage to Alexandria, Ellie Ga learned a volume of information and through her experiences she reveals a vast amount of hidden history to the art world.