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Minefields in an ongoing research project led by the artist Rita Alaoui, a project fully inscribed in the core of her practice which consists of searching for remains and found objects that depict the passage of time. Through a process of collecting, assembling, keeping and labelling an array of found pieces, Rita undertakes a poetic journey through cities, sites, writings and conversations to investigate the impact of time on the material, the immaterial and the organic.  Minefields is an experimental archaeological process which aims to generate a repository dedicated to the conservation of life and to what is left after time. In collaboration with Edward Hollis, Architect and Head of Research at the University of Edinburgh, College of Art, Minefields will evolve into a multidirectional project which will expand into new geographies, histories and sites, to become a live bibliography, an active open resource of knowledge, ideas and materiality.

Rita Alaoui, visual artist, born in 1972, in Rabat, Morocco, lives and works in Casablanca. Graduate of The Parsons School of Design, New York, founder and director of The Ultra Laboratory since 2013, Rita disrupts traditional codes of representation by challenging the limits of the possible. In her incessant quest for innovation, Rita borrows methods of anthropology to collect elements and objects from nature that she places at the heart of her artistic process. These objects, insignificant though they appear, witness the world’s fragility and become works of art. Fragments of decontextualized life, the objects that Rita collects, question the role of the dream in an ever-growing robotic society. Is it still possible to make the world more liveable through poetry? Rita establishes creative links between art and writing, as she published her first ‘Livre Objet’ (book-object) in the Arab world. Each publication is a limited edition written, illustrated and crafted by the artist herself. This process ensures Rita’s connection with the reality and continuity of the object found. For several years now, Rita uses painting as her medium, as well as photography, drawing, installation, video and performance. Edward Hollis studied Architecture at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities. He practiced as an architect for six years, first in Sri Lanka, in the practice of Geoffrey Bawa, at that time the ‘grand old man’ of Sri Lankan Architecture, famous for his garden of follies and ruins at Lunuganga, and then in the practice of Richard Murphy, well known for his radical alterations to ancient and historic buildings in and around Edinburgh. Edward’s research and theoretical thinking is on building stories and narrative structures connecting time, folk tale, and the built environment. His first book, ‘The Secret Lives of Buildings’: a collection of folk tales stories about mythical buildings was published in 2009; and his second ‘The Memory Palace: a book of lost Interiors’ was published in 2013.currently involved with plans to revive the ruins of Gillespie Kidd and Coia’s seminary at Cardross.
Parce qu’il faut toujours fouler le terrain pour en pénétrer le substrat, je vais aller chercher, fouiller, trouver de la matière et des univers enfouis et ainsi garder trace par peur que cela ne disparaisse à jamais pour le monde. Nous marchons tous aujourd’hui sur un terrain miné, de ce fait me voici donc en train de chercher et de creuser tout en appréhendant d’abimer, de perdre mes trouvailles ou de me mettre en danger moi-même. Je suis dans l’urgence de trouver mais aussi dans l’urgence de garder.Tout ce que je trouverai viendra rejoindre mes cabinets de curiosités ou mes archives, témoins de l’histoire de la terre, malmenée par l’homme depuis bien longtemps. Petits objets ou morceaux de ruines, aussi insignifiants soient-ils, sont pourtant le reflet de notre monde et nous livrent des informations qui peuvent dater de plusieurs siècles.Je tenterai également de travailler ces objets de l’intérieur et de retracer leur genèse, à travers le geste, tout comme cela se fait en archéologie expérimentale. Parce que les mains sont les premiers outils de l’homme et les témoins des besoins de chacun, mes recherches sur la gestuelle me mèneront à travers l’art du rituel (spirituel, culturel ou religieux)  dans différentes cultures orientales ainsi qu’à la découverte des divers outils, substituts des mains de l’homme, permettant d’extraire, de traiter, de reconstruire et de garder. Rita Alaoui, Casablanca, September 2016 
 This section features a correspondence between Rita Alaoui and Edward Hollis. This material is un-edited, and the authors have requested that this exchange be published in its raw form, as it evolves and as it is.



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