1966, Saida, Lebanon
Akram Zaatari has developed an interdisciplinary practice that combines the roles of image-maker, archivist, curator, and critical theorist. He is concerned with notions of desire, resistance, memory, surveillance, and –in particular– with the production and circulation of images during wartime. Delving in photography, film, video, installation, and performance, he has built a complex body of work that explores self-documentation and the current state of image making. Zaatari is especially interested in the Lebanese postwar condition, particularly the televised mediation of territorial conflicts and wars, and the logic of religious and national resistance. Through the appropriation and exhibition of documents and image archives, he invites us to rethink what it means to witness, survive or document a war. Some of his works are based on his own collection and study of middle-eastern photographic history: archival images that comprise a valuable record of social relations, representations of male sexuality, and photographic practices of the region. In addition to his own archival work, Akram Zaatari is a founding member of the Arab Image Foundation, which aims to collect, study and disseminate the photographic heritage of Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora.
Zaatari earned a Bachelor of Architecture in 1989 from the American University of Beirut and a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the New School in New York in 1995. In 1997 he was one of the organizers of the now extinct Ayloul Festival an initiative to produce and sponsor theatre, dance, installation, and video works by young Lebanese and international artists. In 2011, he was the 4th laureate of the Yanghyun Prize and in 2004 he received the Grand Prize from the Associação Cultural Videobrasil; He was also awarded Best Documentary and Best Director at the 2nd edition of the Beirut International Film Festival.
Akram Zaatari lives and works in Beirut.
Recently, some of his solo exhibitions have included: Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates (2019); The fold: space, time and the image, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, United States (2018); Akram Zaatari: Against Photography. Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Spain (2017); Double Take: Akram Zaatari and the Arab Image Foundation, National Portrait Gallery, London (2017); Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, Galpão VB | Associação Cultural Videobrasil, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); This Day at Ten, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (2016); The Archaeology of Rumour, British School at Rome BSR (2016); Unfolding, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015); Akram Zaatari: The End of Time, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2014); Projects 100: Akram Zaatari, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (2013); Aujourd'hui à 10 ans / This Day at Ten, MAGASIN - Centre National d'Arts et de Cultures, Grenoble, France (2013); Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, United States (2012); Akram Zaatari: El molesto asunto, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo MUAC, Mexico City (2012) and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2011), among others.
His work has also been part of group exhibitions such as: Beirút, Beyrut, Beyrouth, Beyrout, National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik (2019); En Rebeldía (In Rebellion), Valencia Museum of Modern Art, Spain (2018); Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbours, MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Roma (2017); In Rebellion. Female Narratives In The Arab World, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, IVAM, Valencia, Spain (2017); Question the Wall Itself, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, United States (2015); Quand fondra la Neige où ira le Blanc? Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2015); Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014); fALSEfAKES, Centre de la photographie Genève, Switzerland (2013); This is a special blackout edition! KADIST, Paris (2012); Play 03, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2010); Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin (2009); Les inquiets, Espace 315, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), among others.
Akram Zaatari has also participated in the following biennials: Sharjah Biennial 14, United Arab Emirates (2019); 14 İstanbul Bienali, Turkey (2015); Yokohama Triennale 2014, Japan; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2013); Lebanese Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennial (2013); SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul, South Korea (2012); Lebanese Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennial (2007); 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); 6th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2006); 27a Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2006), among others.