On Photography, People and Modern Times, 2010

Exhibition 2012 Jan-Mar VI

Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg
20 January – 31 March 2012

Zaatari’s practice is tied to the practice of collecting. His work reflects on the production and circulation of images in the Middle East, while considering notions of power, work, social codes / types, fashion, representation and history.

This show focuses on Zaatari’s work with photographic documents while building the collection of the Arab Image Foundation. In 1997 Zaatari started a two-year-project traveling, researching, and collecting photographs from families and from photographers while interviewing them with his video camera. Since 1999 has been focusing on the archive of Studio Sherezade, studying, indexing and presenting the work of Hashem al-Madani (1928-), a studio photographer who worked in Sidon from 1948 until this day.

On the ground floor he presents five enlarged photographs of bodybuilders taken in the Southern Lebanese port city of Sidon. The images are reproduced from negatives taken by Hashem al Madani in 1948. The negatives have been badly stored and were consequently damaged with time and therefore the images have eroded in contrast with the youth of the bodybuilders depicted in them.

On the first floor we present two video installations, On People, Photography and Modern Times (38 minutes, 2010) and Her and Him (2011). The first tells the stories behind photographic records that Zaatari had researched and collected for the Arab Image Foundation in the late nineties. It questions some of the conventions of photographic preservation, and evokes some of the emotions that ties photographs to their owners while commenting on their loneliness aging. It is the first time it has been shown outside the Middle East. Her and Him is comprised of the video Her + Him Van Leo (32 minutes, 2001) made with a long interview Armenian-Egyptian photographer Van Leo, about conventions related to his work. Next to the video hangs a vitrine of photographs taken by Van Leo himself in 1957 showing an Egyptian young woman photographed while undressing in twelve poses.

In the exhibition reception space is shown the full series of Another Resolution, 1998, where Zaatari re-stages photographs of children, using adults, therefore commenting on our photographs contribution in constructing gender.

Akram Zaatari was born in Sidon, Lebanon in 1966 and lives and works in Beirut. He is author of more than 40 videos and numerous photographic and video installations and publications.

Recent exhibitions include MUSAC, Spain, Kunsternes Hus, Norway, the Istanbul Bienniale, and Videobrasil 2011 where his video Tomorrow Everything will be Alright won the Grand Prize. His works have been acquired by Kunsthaus Zürich; TBA, Vienna; Tate Modern, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris amongst others. His exhibition The Uneasy Subject opens at MUAC in Mexico on January 28, 2012.