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ONLINE: Conversation: The Archeological Memory

Thursday, 17 March 2022
1 – 2pm

Join artist Emii Alrai for a conversation with archaeologist, curator and author Laurent Olivier. Laurent’s book The Dark Abyss of Time: Archaeology and Memory has been a key influence on Emiis ongoing research into historical artefacts and museological processes. The book reframes the practices of archaeology as not to study the past itself but rather what materially remains of the past in our present.

Emii and Laurent will discuss interconnecting themes of archaeology, memory, mythology and museological practices with a focus on intimacy in archaeology and how those processes allow us to form memory to material. The conversation is an opportunity to hear a more in-depth discussion around the themes in the exhibition The Courtship of Giants.


Laurent Olivier is Curator-in-Chief of the Celtic and Gallic Department at the National Museum of Archaeology in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, Professor of National Antiquities at the École du Louvre, and Reader in the History and Theory of Archaeology at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He received his PhD in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Olivier has authored over two hundred scientific papers and book chapters. His recent publications include Nos ancêtres les Germains: les archéologues français et allemands au service du nazisme (Paris: Tallandier, 2012); The Dark Abyss of Time: Memory and Archaeology, trans. Arthur Greenspan (Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2011); and L’art gaulois, co-author, Christophe Renault (Paris: J.-P. Gisserot, 2010).

Emii Alrai is an artist based in Leeds. Focusing on the ancient mythologies from the Middle East alongside personal oral histories of Iraq, Emii weaves together narratives by forging artefacts and visualising residues of cultural collision. Drawing references from objects in museum collections, ancient writing from the Middle East and cultural memories, her work questions the value and origins of artefacts, as well as navigating the experience of diaspora.

She studied her BA in Fine Art and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at The University of Leeds. In 2020, she undertook a residency in Calabria with In-ruins, Italy, and was selected for the Triangle Asterides Residency, Marseille. In 2019, she participated in the Arab British Centre Making Marks Project in Kuwait and the 2018 Tetley Artist Associate Programme. Upcoming and Recent group and solo exhibitions include: Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK (2022), Visual Arts Centre, Clarington, Canada (2021),  Threshold, Leeds, UK (2021), Jerwood Arts, London, UK (2021), The Tetley, Leeds, UK (2020); VITRINE, London (2019), Fallow, Rectory Projects (2019), Two Queens, Leicester, UK (2019); GLOAM, Sheffield, UK (2018); (2018); Caustic Casual, Salford, UK (2017); Hutt Collective, Nottingham, UK (2017).