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Akram Zaatari at CAC

October 22, 2018

The photograph may capture a split second, but the image can live on in so many new ways – darkroom process, photograph material, image context, the interpretation of an artist. These possibilities are remarkable in The Fold – Space, time and the image, an exhibition of work by artist Akram Zaatari. The Fold includes works by the artist, as well as works Zaatari selected from the archives of Hashem El Madani (1928–2017) and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF), which he co-founded.


Akram Zaatari, Bodybuilder 35 mm negative strips (detail), 2011. From the archive of Studio Shehrazade/Hashem el Madani

From the exhibition text: “In an interdisciplinary practice that thereby positions lens-based media as both specimen and subterfuge, Zaatari participates in the discourse against photography and its complex archival legacy. For this exhibition he positions the seemingly simple fold as a narrative form, a reorganization, an enduring obfuscation, and the memory of material.”

IMG_7274In Hashem el Madani’s Damaged Negatives: Scratched Portraits of Mrs. Baqari and Her Friend, two beautiful women are covered in black lines.  The gallery text explains the story from el Madani: “these are negatives that were scratched because of a jealous husband, who never let his wife out by herself. She used to come frequently to be photographed…before meeting him….After they married, he was upset to know that she came to be photographed in my studio without telling him. He came asking for the negatives. I refused to give them to him…in the end we agreed that I would scratch the negatives of his wife with a pin, and I did it in front of him.”

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Akram Zaatari: The Fold – Space, time and the image is on view through February 10, 2019 at the Contemporary Arts Center, and is held in conjunction with FotoFocus Biennial. Learn more at or

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