Akram Zaatari. Composition for Two Wings
CAC (Contemporary Art Center), Vilnius
April 20 – May 20, 2012
In the context of Western Europe, Akram Zaatari (1966, Lebanon) is one of the most exotic of today's artists. His childhood and teenage years were spent in Lebanon's southern city of Saida during the civil war; consequently, the safest place for him to be was his parent's flat. The closed environment, with only rare excursions to the outside world, became fertile ground for the development of his imagination. Zaatari acquired the habit of collecting of various testimonials that he had access to; whether they were photographs, written notes or recordings, in his hands they became self-made stories that illustrated what was going on around him. No matter that the materials may have been the latest news on recent bombings or recordings of propaganda programs from rebel groups – they were part of Zaatari's daily reality, which when combined with his interest in the local pop-music world, acquired a completely different meaning and created a different point of view from which to look at what was going on. Today the artist lives in Lebanon's capital city of Beirut; he continues to reflect on the culture and political issues surrounding his homeland and tirelessly collects testimonials from people. Zaatari then combines these fragmentary experiences into a subjective whole – a work of art – and hands the viewer a piece of something that is so very difficult to comprehend.
Exposition view. Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Zaatari's exhibition, “Composition for Two Wings”, will be held at Vilnius' Contemporary Art Center (CAC) through May 20. The exhibit consists of two mutually exclusive installations – Earth of Endless Secrets and The Uneasy Subject. The first has come about as a long-term research project and consists of a wide array of documents – letters, photographs and various recordings – revealing Lebanon's modern history in an intimate light. On a completely different page, The Uneasy Subject brings to attention the impulse that drives people to exhibit their bodies in such a public arena as Youtube.
Akram Zaatari received his bachelor's degree in architecture (American University of Beirut), but his master's in media studies (New School for Social Research, New York). From 1995 to 1997 Zaatari worked for Beirut Television; it is indicative that a large part of his video work was created during this period. The artist has held solo shows in museums and galleries in Munich, Oslo, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Brussels, and has participated in group shows at London's Tate Modern (2011), the Pompidou Centre in Paris (2008), and at the Venice Art Biennial (2007), among a slew of other big-name venues.
In organizing the exhibition, CAC has closely cooperated with Oslo's Kunstnernes Hus, where “Composition for Two Wings” was on view from November of last year through the end of January 2012.