Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, 2017
Installation view MACBA

Born Saida (Lebanon) 1966. Lives and works in Beirut.

Akram Zaatari has produced more than forty films and videos, a dozen books, and countless installations of photographic material, all pursuing a range of interconnected themes, subjects, and practices related to excavation, political resistance, the lives of former militants, the legacy of an exhausted left, intimacies among men, the circulation of images in times of war, and the play of tenses inherent to various letters that have been lost, found, buried, discovered, or otherwise delayed in reaching their destinations. Zaatari has played a critical role in developing the formal, intellectual, and institutional infrastructure of Beirut’s contemporary art scene. He was one of a handful of young artists who emerged from the delirious but short-lived era of experimentation in Lebanon’s television industry, which was radically reorganized after the country’s civil war. As a co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation, a groundbreaking, artist-driven organization devoted to the research and study of photography in the region, he has made invaluable and uncompromising contributions to the wider discourse on photography and its disintegration, preservation and archival practice. Zaatari has been focusing since 2004 on studying the archive of studio photographer Hashem el Madani, who founded studio Shehrazade in Saida, where Zaatari filmed his last feature Twenty Eight Nights and A Poem (2015).

Zaatari represented Lebanon at the Venice biennale 2013. He has shown his films, videos, photographs, and other documents in institutions such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA in NY, Tate Modern in London, Modern Museet in Stockholm, Macba in Barcelona and Kunsthaus Zurich. He has taken part of Documenta13 (2012), the biennials of Gwangju, Liverpool, Istanbul, Sao Paulo and Sydney.

His films have screened at the Berlinale, FID Marseille, Rotterdam, Toronto, and Oberhausen film festivals.




born in Saida, Lebanon

lives in Beirut


Selected Solo Exhibitions


Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, MACBA, Barcelona
Unfolding, Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg
Double Take: Akram Zaatari and the Arab Image Foundation, National Portrait Gallery, London

Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, Galpão VB: Associação Cultural Videobrasil, São Paulo
This Day At Ten, Kunsthaus Zürich
The Archaeology of Rumour, British Institue, Rome

Unfolding, Moderna Museet, Stockholm

This Day @ Ten, Wiels Contemporary Art Center, Brussels

Akram Zaatari, Lebanese Pavillon, Arsenale, 55. Venice Biennial, Venice
Akram Zaatari. This Day @ Ten, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut
Akram Zaatari: All Is Well, Agnes Etherington Art Center, Queens University Kingston, UK
Projects 100: Akram Zaatari, Projects Gallery Museum of Modern Art, New York

Projects 100: Akram Zaatari, SFMOMA, San Francisco
This Day at Ten / Aujourd'hui à 10, Magasin Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France
Akram Zaatari, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago
The End, Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg

Composition for Two Wings, Kunsternes Hus, Oslo
This Day, Moderna Galerija Ljubiljana, Slovenia  

 Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, France
Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Earth of Endless Secrets, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
Ludlow38, New York
Beirut Art Center, Lebanon
Kunstverein Munich

Art Basel/Statements, Switzerland
Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg

 Hashem el Madani: Promenades and Studio Practices, CaixaForum, Barcelona, Tenerife and Salamanca
Hashem el Madani: Studio Practices, Paris Photo, Paris

 Mapping Sitting (coll. with Walid Raad), Grey Art Gallery, New York

Unfolding, Portikus, Frankfurt
Hashem el Madani: Studio Practices, Photographers’ Gallery, London
Mapping Sitting, Centre Pour l'Image Contemporaine, Genève
Mapping Sitting, Musée Nicéphore Nièpce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France

Mapping Sitting, SK Die Photographische Sammlung, Cologne
Mapping Sitting, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels

The Vehicle, The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

The Vehicle, Darat al Founoun, Amman, Jordan 

Goethe Institute, Beirut


Selected Group Exhibitions


Letter to a refusing pilot, MOMENTA I Biennale de l'image, Quebec
No to the Invasion: From the Archive<e/m>, CCS Bard, New York
The Written Language of Reality, CCS Bard, New York

Between Myth and Fright. The Mediterranean as conflict, Institut Valencia d'art Modern, Valencia
The Human Document, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, England
In Search of The Present, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo, Finland
Question the Wall Itself, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, USA
Art From Elsewhere: International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries, Arnolfini, Bristol, England
An Imagined Museum: Works from the Centre Pompidou, the Tate and the MMK, Museum Fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
A History: Contemporary Art from the Centre Pompidou, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany

Gallery 3010, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
Arte Fiera Collezionismi – Too Early Too Late. Middle East and Modernity, Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Italy

Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York, USA
(Mis) Understanding Photography Werke und Manifeste, Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany
Shifting Sands, ASU Art Museum, Temple, Arizona
Yokohoma Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohoma, Japan

fALSEfAKES, Centre de la Photoraphie, Geneva
Here, Elswhere / Ici, ailleurs, Marseille-Provence, France

This is a special blackout edition!, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris
Privat, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco
Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool
Mediacity Seoul 2012, Seoul
Six Lines of Flight: Geographies in Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany
Arab Express: The Latest Art form the Arab World, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Subversion, Cornerhouse Manchester

Participant at Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul
Seeing is believing, KW – Institue for Contemporary Art, Berlin
Distant Star, Regen Projects, Los Angeles & Kurimanzutto, Mexico
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK
Beirut project space, Kunsthalle Vienna, Austria
17th International Contemporary Art Festival, São Paulo
Photography, New Documents, Tate Modern, London
Mapping Subjectivity, MOMA, New York
Volume!, MACBA Barcelona
October Salon 2011, Belgrade Cultural Centre, Belgrad

Tradition der Zukunft – Zukunft der Tradition, Haus der Kunst, Munich
Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin/Madrid, Haus der Kulturen, Berlin

Indicated by Signs curated by Yilmaz, Bonner Kunstverein
Espai Visor Gallery, Valencia
Itinerary Gallery, Rome
Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Tarjama/Translation, Queens Museum of Art, New York
Lisson Presents 1, Lisson Gallery, London
Closer Beirut Art Center, Beirut

The Middle of the Middle by Catherine David, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut
50 Moons of Saturn, Torino Triennale, Torino
Scenes du Sud II, Carré d'Art, Nimes
Art in Lebanon, Darat el Founoun, Amman, Jordan
Les Inquiets, Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Oh Girl, It’s a Boy, Kunstverein München, Munich
Mediterraneo(s), Centre d’Art La Panera, Lerida, Spain
GEOPOETICAS, Centro José. Guerrero, Granada, Spain
Pavilion of Lebanon, Venice biennale, Venice
Thermocline of Art - New Asian Waves, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
Biennale of Thessaloniki, Greece

Biennale of São Paulo, Brazil
Gwangju Biennale, Korea
Biennale of Sydney, Australia
OUT OF BEIRUT, Modern Art Oxford
A Picture of War is not War, Wilkinson Gallery, London

Leaps of Faith, Nicosia, Cyprus
Masculinities, NBK Berlin
Flight 405, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut

CAC Ticino, Italy
SENI, Singapore art Museum, Singapore
Nam June Paik Award exhibition, Dortmund
Tanit Gallery, Munich, as part of Present / Absence.
LIFT, London - as part of the exhibition Laughter

Substream, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Worldwide Video Festival, Amsterdam
The Possible Narratives, Videobrasil, São Paulo
Disorientation, curated by Jack Persekian, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

Haunted by detail, Die Appel, Amsterdam

Hamra Street project, Beirut
Askal Alwan, Beirut

Corniche project, Askal Alwan, Beirut

Ayloul Festival, Beirut


Works in public collections:


Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Tate Modern, London, Global Arts, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arco Foundation, Madrid, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Kadist Foundation, Paris, TBA21, Vienna




Akram Zaatari: El Molesto Asunto/The Uneasy Subject, 2010, a project co-produced by MUSAC, León and MUAC, México
Earth of Endless Secrets, 2009, published as a postscript to the exhibition Akram Zaatari: Unfolding; and for the exhibition: Akram Zaatari: Earth of Endless Secrets, Kunstverein München, Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Beirut, Beirut Art Center
Hashem el Madani: Studio Practices, (2004 – MTG – AIF – TPG).
Mapping Sitting, (2002 - MTGé, Beirut) with Zeina Maasri and Karl Bacil, in collaboration with W. Raad.
The Vehicle: Picturing Moments of Transition in a Modernizing Society,(1999 - MTGé, Beirut)
Portraits du Caire: Van Leo, Armand, Alban, (1999 - Actes Sud, Paris)
Another Resolution, (1998 - MTGé, Beirut)  


Awards and Residencies


Video de Brazil in Videobrazil, First Prize for Tomorrow Everything will be Alright
Yanghun Prize, Korea 

DAAD, Berliner Künstlerprogramm 

Recollets, Paris.
Bellagio, The Rockefeller Foundation 

FAIR PLAY Video Art Festival Berlin, 1st Price for Red Chewing Gum 

Prix Son – FID Marseille for This Day 

Grand Award – Ismailia short & Doc Film Festival (Egypt) for Her + Him Van Leo 

Jury Award – VideoLisboa for Red Chewing Gum 

Grand Award – Antalya Golden Orange Festival for Crazy of You
Best documentary & best director, Beirut film festival for Crazy of You  

Banff Center for the Arts 


Film and Video Screenings/Festivals (Selection)


17. Internationales Festival Zeitgenössischer Kunst, SCSE Videobrazil, São Paulo 

International Film Festival Rotterdam 

Beirut Art Center
Images, Toronto 

Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage
SANFIC, Santiago - Chile 

Festival des 3 Continents, Nantes 

Tate Modern, London 

Videobrasil, São Paulo 

Disorientation, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin