Carthage exhibition makes history accessible to youth
Carthage - The National Museum of Carthage opened its doors at night in late June for visitors to enjoy special lighting and videos in the museum as part of the Mapping of Carthage: The Nocturnal Path exhibit.
The installation combined contemporary art video and music to celebrate the history of Tunisia. At the entrance of the courtyard, visitors were guided by lights and music through the path of installations. Once the darkness dissipated, visitors were in front of the great pillars in the hall, which were coloured by lights to replicate how they appeared in ancient times.
Special lighting effects made statues appear to be dressed in Punic and Roman outfits and a Punic village was covered with projected calligraphy. Children waited in line to have their photo projected on the missing head of a statue of a Punic child.
“The idea came about when I noticed, through discussions with others, that young people are not interested in history and museums anymore and that stones alone do not induce feelings for young people to relate to,” said event organiser Hatem Drissi.
“We thought it would be interesting to think of a way to include new technologies, new tools to get them attracted through a medium they like. We thought, ‘Why not use this tool to highlight the beauty of our history.’”
Drissi, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and video mapping agency Design Lab, designed the exhibition as an attempt to encourage people to reconnect with history and culture.
The installation used music and light to restore the colours of artefacts as well as to “rebuild” missing parts of statues and buildings. Statues appeared to be dressed in outfits and colours of their eras. The installation included animation videos and interactive enhancement of the ruins of Carthage through projected colour and calligraphy.
“This project is of both cultural and scientific value as it addresses the history of the country as well as the relationship between young people and the history and culture of their country,” Drissi said. “The idea is to introduce these forgotten works of art to young people. We added colours to the works of art to simulate the original colours of statues and buildings.
“According to research and studies I have done, they were not white in their original state so we worked on colour pigmentation. The visuals seen on the works of art are displayed in a way that resembles the colours of antiquity and how they were originally depicted and built.”
The project aimed to promote cultural heritage in an appealing way to younger people through new media, such as video mapping. It also attempts to explain history and patrimony.
“The goal is to democratise access to art and museums, to democratise sculptures, and to promote an access to history that is fast and pertinent so people understand our heritage.
“Some people don’t even know their history so this medium can function as a pedagogical tool so visitors can differentiate between Roman, Punic and other eras. It is part of educating people about history,” Drissi said.
Drissi said he hopes to expand the experience to other museums in Tunisia as well as archaeological sites.
“This event will inaugurate a series of other video mapping shows in other museums and archaeological sites,” he said. “As long as there are young people who are willing to introduce some change in the policy of culture, we hope to continue with such initiatives.” Drissi said.
“Before, we had a classical approach to patrimony in which we had events where experts lecture about history and civilisations. It is important now to include new technologies in promoting patrimony. These are the points that we need to work on for culture.”
Lobna Ajmi, a student, was waiting for a painting of the nine muses and Diane, the goddess of hunt, to unravel as part of a video installation.
“It is quite original. It shows us our history in a creative and entertaining way,” she said. “Younger generations are not interested in monuments and cultural events or history, so, it is a new initiative using technological tools that is appealing to them.
“I encourage such initiatives. … I hope it continues, to refresh the spirit of the place and introduce people to history.”