The Landing, 2019
Akram Zaatari’s videos, films, photographic installations and publications excavate past landscapes and reorganizes the finds in his own present narratives. His Sharjah Biennale 14 work, The Landing (2019), takes as its starting point Shaabiyat Al Ghurayfah, a public housing project built for descendants of Al Kutby tribe (pronounced ‘Ketby’) in Al Madam, Sharjah in the early 1980s. In 1994, the families moved to new housing in the vicinity, leaving their old houses to be covered slowly in shifting sands. Today Shaabiyyat Al Ghurayfah looks like ancient ruins.
Three men find themselves in the desert. Their moves, their communication, their assessment of location take the form of an acoustic exploration of space. A repertoire of simple gestures playfully engages with structure, space, threshold, verticality and perspective. Cables, sewage pipes, tubes, shovels, kitchen tools, electric air blowers and even a helicopter landing on site are all deployed in this film for their sonic rather than narrative potential—creating refractions, confrontations and transformations in a broken narrative.
The Landing, 2019, 63 min, 1:2.39 ratio, surround sound 5.1 - Color, Ed. 5 + 2 AP, Excerpt
Against Photography, 2017
For Zaatari, a photograph is not simply a description; it is an object made of matter, with surfaces that react to their environment and can become a record of it. This series represent a trip across time and media. The set of 12 engravings were made from digitally routed plates that reproduced a 3D scan of various gelatin negatives that have reacted to environmental conditions, and developed different forms of channeling and abrasions. While resorting to an image-blind scanner that records only relief, Zaatari disengages photography from descriptive, narrative and aesthetic traditions and reconnects it to plastic arts. Each sign of wear contributes to the object’s history, which is independent from the image it represents. The outcome is an abstract and delicate landscape of erosion that has its own story to tell.