10/30/04 - 12/05/04
While constantly searching for photographic, video, oral or written documents, for the exhibition at Portikus, Akram Zaatari dug deep into the ground through the layers of history in order to bring that which was buried many years ago once again to the surface. With the video piece, In this house (2004), about the unearthing and personal experiences of a former member of the militia, Zaatari exposes another document of a specific time and makes it available for a new historiography, one that begins with personal recollections and memories as opposed to the official representations and narratives of history. Instead of following the politically motivated sources of information imposed upon us, Zaatari uses a different approach to convey and preserve a history based on incommunicable, personal experiences from daily life. This methodology is apparent in the work from 2004, Saida. June 6, 1982. Clouds of smoke are rising from behind the hills caused by an air strike. Zaatari prepared six photographs that he himself took on that very same day into one picture that renders a comprehensive overview of a day in Zaatari's life.
"Zaatari has consistently challenged the self-evident quality and immediacy of the documents he found or ran into. As we follow his works, it is clear that the Lebanon of the past thirty years, especially the Lebanon of the Lebanese wars, continues to produce documents that shed light on what it meant and means to experience the physical, social, political and psychic dimensions of wars. The continued manifestation of these documents today bring with them questions about how to see and listen to these documents, about how to unpack their meanings." (Walid Raad)
Akram Zaatari is a film-maker, artist and curator living in Beirut. He is the author of over 30 videos and video-installations. He is a founding member of the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut), which is relevant in the development of his current, research-based work surrounding the photographic, image-based history of the Middle East while serving as a platform for a series of exhibitions and publications.
[The Arab Image Foundation was established in Beirut (Lebanon) in 1997 to locate, collect, preserve, interpret and present the photographic heritage and visual culture of the Middle East and North Africa from the early 19th century to the present. The research and acquisition of photographs alone started in 1997 and covered to date Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. The collections acquired include 50,000 photographs covering the time period between 1860 and 1970.]