Moderna Museet in Stockholm, one of the finest modern and contemporary arts institutions in Europe, is currently hosting a solo exhibition with one of the most interesting artists springing out of the Arab-speaking world; Lebanese-born artist, filmmaker and curator Akram Zaatari. At the very core of Zaatari's practice is his keen interest in collecting and scrutinizing found material and recording and recontextualizing history, notably through photographic material. A permanent fixture of the contemporary art scene in his native Beirut, which he can be credited for having been a part of shaping, Zaatari serves as one of the co-founders of the Arab Image Foundation; a Beirut-based non-profit organization with the objective of preserving and spreading imagery from the Arab-speaking world and diaspora.



Anonymous. South Lebanon, 1952. Hashem el Madani 2007 by Akram Zaatari born 1966

Zaatari works with an array of media and notably presented a publicized video work titled Letter to a refusing pilot at the 55th Venice Biennale, but is perhaps most noted for the photographic works which make part of a key project involving a feature documentary titled Twenty eight nights and a poem. The film centers around a photographer, Hashem el Madani, who ran a photo studio in the city of Saida from the 1950's. The project, very much like the work of famed Malian photographer Malick Sidibé (<3) , is telling of what social role the photographic portrait studio once played in the local community. Zaatari's work brings to mind how every photograph in essence is the bearer of a story and effectively refute notions of "otherness" attributed to said regions from the West.

Anonymous. Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1950s. Hashem el Madani 2007 by Akram Zaatari born 1966

Students of Aisha Om el Mo'minin School for Girls. Sakakini (right) and Hadiyeh Bsat. School courtyard, Saida, Lebanon, 1948-49. Hashem el Madani 2007 by Akram Zaatari born 1966

Reesh. Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, late 1960s. Hashem el Madani 2007 by Akram Zaatari born 1966