Akram Zaatari’s latest film Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem explores the work of photographer Hashem el Madani, who has run a commercial photography studio in southern Lebanon for the last five decades. After spending years photographing people in front of their shops, in public squares or at the beach, el Madani opened the studio in response to his community’s desire to appear before the camera. Moving between el Madani’s studio in Saïda and the Arab Image Foundation – an image archive in Beirut now housing the majority of el Madani’s photographic collection – the film examines the changing sites, status and function of photographic practice and preservation though various analogue and digital media.
Akram Zaatari, Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem, Lebanon / France 2015, DCP, colour, sound, 105 min, Arabic with English subtitles
After the screening the artist will be in conversation with Tate Modern curator Andrea Lissoni, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Watch the trailer
About Akram Zaatari
Akram Zaatari (born 1966, Lebanon) is a filmmaker, photographer, archivist and curator. He has produced more than forty 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 and legacies of former militants, intimacies among men, the circulation of images in times of war and the play of tenses inherent to various letters that have been lost, found, buried, discovered, or otherwise delayed in reaching their destinations.
He 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 co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation – a groundbreaking, artist-driven organisation devoted to the research and study of photography in the region – he has made invaluable and uncompromising contributions to the wider discourse on preservation and archival practice.