Akram Zaatari lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Akram Zaatari presents his first major UK solo presentation at FACT on the occasion of the Liverpool Biennial. The work within the exhibition considers private and public interactions with the human body and the technological apparatus. Zaatari’s show takes us from the intimacy of a photographer’s studio in Egypt to an inspiring 4-channel media installation consisting of private videos of Arab youth, found on YouTube.

The artist considers the thin line that connects us to the public – exploring various techniques – studying the relationship between a photographer and his muse, as well as the solitary relationship between Arab male youth and social media. All works are UK Premieres.

Her + Him (2012) consists of a single channel film, Her + Him Van Leo (1998-2012) and a vitrine of photographs taken by legendary Armenian photographer Van Leo in 1959. The vitrine shows an Egyptian woman called Nadia undressing in twelve different positions who is also the subject of the film. This expanded documentary is a dialogue between photography and video.

Another Resolution (1998) presents a series of images of children taken at different photographic studios in different poses. Zaatari noticed that these children often possessed seductive attitudes, and so decided to invite grown ups to embody the same poses as the children – reflecting the adult attitude suggested by the different poses taken by the original photographer. This work serves as a comment on the photographer’s power to affect the social codes expected of both children and adults in photographic practice.

Bodybuilders (2011) is a series of photographs taken in the Southern Lebanese port city of Sidon (Saida). The images are reproduced from damaged negatives taken by Hashem al Madani in 1948. The eroded images create a poetic juxtaposition in contrast with the strapping youth of the bodybuilders depicted within them.

Dance to the End of Love (2011) is a four-screen media installation consisting of found YouTube footage of Arab youth who have decided to film themselves and share these rushes freely online. Zaatari notes that all of these films were produced on the eve of what is today referred to as the ‘Arab Uprising’, and as such, considers the role of YouTube as a space that is both intimate and public. Dance to the End of Love was made out of low resolution footage made mainly with mobile phones in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Saudi-Arabia and Oman, and showing male bodybuilders, men driving cars and riding motorcycles, singing and dancing, but when included within this 4-channel video, this unique piece becomes a symphony in 5 movements about the loneliness of the oppressed, about hundreds of thousands crushed and forgotten in their home countries, who choose to use their computer screens as sites to live out their collective, heroic dreams.

Recent exhibitions include Photography: New Documentary Forms (Tate Modern, London, U.K., 2012), Composition for Two Wings (Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012), and Seeing is Believing (Kunst-Werke Berlin, Germany, 2011).

Her + Him, 2012 and Another Resolution, 1998

Single channel-films

Dance to the End of Love, 2011
Four-screen media installation

Both exhibited at FACT