March 23, 2014 - WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels - Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten
March 23, 2014

Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten

Installation view, Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten, WIELS, Brussels, with Letter to a Refusing Pilot, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut / Hamburg. Photo © 2014 Sven Laurent, Let me shoot for you.

Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten
21 February– 27 April 2014

Contemporary Art Centre
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354
1190 Brussels, Belgium
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18h

T +32 (0)2 340 00 53

WIELS presents a solo exhibition by Lebanese-born, Beirut-based artist Akram Zaatari (b.1966). Zaatari showed one of the most celebrated works at last year’s Venice Biennale, Letter to a Refusing Pilot, and brings this film installation to WIELS, together with three works that revolve around letter writing, or corresponding with an imaginary addressee.

The title of the exhibition refers to Zaatari’s cinematic essay-film from 2003, the similarly titled This Day. Ten years later, with the war in Syria escalating and the unsolvable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he uses the work as a prism through which to bring the past and the present into focus. Zaatari’s work is a meditation upon images, their meaning and function, and the ways in which they circulate. Although his practice is closely linked with the practice of archiving and opening up a collection, he has developed a very personal montage style, open and documentary with subjective voice or text overlays, thus giving a voice to both the people portrayed as well as the photographers, and juxtaposes these subjective documents with the objective historical developments and the great conflicts of the age.

Zaatari is one of the people spearheading the renewal of documentary filmmaking and photography, and more specifically as a lucid observer of images from the emotionally laden Middle East, a region that has long been divided and scarred by war. Providing evidence to counter Western stereotypes of the Arabs, their culture and nature is a driving force for both Zaatari and the Arab Image Foundation, a nonprofit of which he is a co-founder that’s run primarily by artists, and that is devoted to the research and study of photography in the region. Writing a letter is simultaneously both proof and testimony: a personal reaction to events, and the registration of what takes place. In the exhibition, during the excavation of The Letter for a Time of Peace (2007), we encounter the author, a former member of the resistance during the war in Southern Lebanon. Letter to a Refusing Pilot is an evocative, poetic narrative dedicated to the former Israeli pilot who refused to bomb the school in the city of Zaatari’s birth.

Among the most prolific and influential artists of his generation, 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 reorganised after the country’s civil war. As a co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation, he has made pointed contributions to the wider discourse on preservation and archival practice.

Zaatari has also produced more than 40 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, and the play of tenses inherent to various letters that have been lost, found, buried, discovered, or otherwise delayed in reaching their destinations.

Complementary programme

1 April 2014, 19h
“Other People’s Lives”
Lecture by Peter Osborne, Professor of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University London

Also on view in WIELS
Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides
21 February–11 May 2014

Press contact
Micha Pycke:
micha.pycke [​at​] / T +32 (0)2 340 00 51 / M +32 (0)486 680 070

Akram Zaatari: This Day at Ten at WIELS, Brussels
WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels
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