Pascal Convert, a conversation with Philippe Dagen and Yves Ubelmann
Thursday 31 May 2018, at 7 pm

Practical Information

Cliffs of Bamiyan, a major exhibition piece of Melancholia, is the result of a hybrid of processes linking more contemporary and ancient technologies. Artist Pascal Convert will reflect on his piece during an open discussion on monuments – from Mossoul to Yerevan – currently at risk, alongside Yves Ubelmann and Philippe Dagen.

The Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan is a site at the crossroads of civilisations, most notably famous for its three monumental statues of Buddhas. These were sculpted in the hollows of the cliffs between 300 and 700 AD, and then destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban after a decree by mullah Omar condemned idols. There are also numerous places for troglodyte worship or meditation along the cliffs, which are threatened by erosion and neglected by followers. Pascal Convert’s photographs thus depict an absence, and the traces it leaves behind.

During his stay in Bamiyan, in addition to a 3D scan of the site using drones with the support of the ICONEM company, Pascal Convert used a photography technique ordinarily applied to detect micro cracks in wind turbine blades. This technology helped him make a life-sized image of the cliff by using a system of tiling thousands of photographs together. In a dialectical manner, by applying a hybrid of contemporary and ancient technologies, he chose to create a platinum print of the whole cliff utilising a monochrome printing process – a contact printing technique invented in 1880. The viewer thus feels as if he is facing a photographic object whose visual and tactile qualities are linked to a direct imprint. Somewhere, within the fibres of the cotton paper, lies the light of the cliff of Bamiyan.


Pascal Convert is a French artist born in 1957. His work mixes diverse materials such as glass, porcelain, and wax, and constantly references the theme of time. His works include records from lost sites, such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan, as well as imprints of familiar objects, and vitrifications of living spaces. The themes of oblivion and memory are crystallised in fragile materials.

After studying architecture, Yves Ubelmann worked as an independent architect from 2006 to 2010 in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; to catalogue, study, and interpret archaeological sites. In this framework, he has developed a new approach to photogrammetry for recording archaeological sites since 2009. In 2010 and 2011, he worked alongside the IT department of the ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure) as a specialised engineer at the Microsoft Research – INRIA joint center to develop and apply methods of 3D digitalisation based on recent photogrammetric reconstruction algorithms. He founded ICONEM in 2013 – a startup specialised in the digitalisation of archaeological and heritage sites, now active in 21 countries. By associating several techniques of 3D digitalisation and the use of drones, ICONEM produces veristic digital copies of monuments across the world (the Saint-Jacques Tower in Paris, Pompeii in Italy, the island of Delos in Greece, Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, Palmyra in Syria…). This work is conducted on behalf of major museums (the Louvre Museum, the RMN-Grand Palais and the National Museum of Singapore), international institutions (UNESCO, the World Blank, UNOSAT), archaeologists (the French School at Athens, the Casa de Velázquez, SFDAS…) and for governments and territorial authorities (Mairie de Paris, the French Institute of Myanmar, the federation of municipalities of Beaucaire…).

Philippe Dagen is an art historian as well as a researcher and an art critic. He now teaches History of contemporary art at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and is a journalist for the newspaper Le Monde, which has published his work since 1985.

Centre for art and dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67
1050 Brussels

7€ for the members of the Circle of the Villa
4€ for students under 26

In French

T. +32 2 627 52 30

Pascal Convert, Falaise de Bâmiyân, 2017
© Lola Pertsowsky