Akram Zaatari

Salt Beyoğlu

December 2, 2014 – February 15, 2015

Akram Zaatari, Beirut Exploded Views, 2014 Akram Zaatari’nin <i>Beirut Exploded Views</i> [Beyrut Parçalı Görüntüler] (2014) videosundan bir kare
Still from the video Beirut Exploded Views (2014) by Akram Zaatari
SALT is the originating institution for a major survey exhibition of renowned Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari. The exhibition takes place across all three floors of SALT Beyoğlu and hosts elements from different volumes of work such as: The Uneasy Subject, 28 Nights and A PoemEarth of Endless Secrets and Time Capsule. Zaatari’s video, Beirut Exploded Views, 2014 is also part of the exhibition, while Letter to a Refusing Pilot (2013) will be screened in the Walk-in Cinema at programmed times during the opening week of the exhibition and at later dates.
The floors of SALT Beyoğlu are divided thematically, bringing together projects and works from different periods from 1998 through 2014, presented in the same space based on the interests they share.

Works on the third floor take into account body postures and gestures as language, and include Zaatari’s first video installation, Another Resolution (1998), a reenactment of photographic gestures rarely installed in its integral and complex form as an installation of 12 wall projections. Presented on the same floor is Zaatari’s most recent video Beirut Exploded Views (2014), where in a city post-apocalypse, people are able to communicate only through gestures, and smart devices.

The second floor focuses on photographic archives comprising two major works, On Photography, People and Modern Times (2010), a display of an extensive research on vernacular photography that led to the creation of the Arab Image Foundation’s original collection of photographs from the Middle East, and 28 Nights and A Poem (2006 - 2014), a multi media installation that considers a photographic studio as a site of an ongoing excavation, displaying photographs, films and video recordings made in the studio.

The first floor is dedicated to Zaatari’s work on the act of excavation as a metaphor for concealing and revealing artifacts, namely archaeology and whatever its opposite could be. Elements of the Time Capsule produced for dOCUMENTA 13 (2012) create a frame for Zaatari’s inquiries into these areas of interest. The space opens with a display of Zaatari’s research on Osman Hamdi Bey’s excavation in Saida in 1887. The installation mixes interviews and key documents to present a case for a future work to be made. Zaatari’s research was initiated in 2014 as part of his Boğaziçi Chronicles residency at Boğaziçi University, and later developed by SALT.
At 19.00 December 2, the opening evening of the exhibition, Zaatari will give a talk that focuses on his video work Letter to a Refusing Pilot, which will also be screened as part of the presentation in the Walk-in Cinema at SALT Beyoğlu.

Akram Zaatari has produced more than forty 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 preservation and archival practice.

Zaatari was part of dOCUMENTA 13 in 2012, and represented Lebanon at the Venice Biennale in 2013. 

This exhibition is organized with the support of funds from Zaatari’s receipt of the Yanghun Prize, Korea, 2011.