Akram Zaatari

Akram Zaatari, "A girl and her brother. Studio Sherazade. 1960s", 1960/2004.
1960

"When you position your hand on someone's shoulder, your shoulders become straight and horizontal. Placing one's hand on a stable surface helps position the shoulders and the general posture of the body." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Bashasha (left) and a friend. Studio Sherhazade", 1950s/2004.
1950

"Films inspired people a lot. they came to perform kissing in front of a camera. In a conservative society such as Saida, people were willing to play the kiss between two people of the same sex, but very rarely between a man and a woman.I remember only one couple who came to the studio and kissed in front of the camera, and they were not married. The rest of them were people of the same sex. One of them plays the woman, while the other plays the man." Hashem El Madani.

Akram Zaatari, "Anonymous, Madani's parents home", 1950/2004.
1950

"While taking the picture it was challenging to make the boys sit properly without moving. Sometimes a member of the family whould hide behind, holding the child." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Anonymous. Madani,’s parent’s home. The Studio", 1949-50.
1950

"Other photographers used to send me negatives of cross-eyed people, asking me to retouch them. I used to scratch out the emulsion where the pupil is, and draw another one right next to it." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Anonymous, Studio Sherhazade", 1950/2004.
1950

"In the 1980s I started using coloured paper backdrops, one of which was yellow. You can see they never reached the floor. I used them for colour and black-and-white photography." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Najm", Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1956.
1956

"People often asked if they could pose with the Kodak advertisement where a full scale woman is featured with a camera offering Kodak rolls. They invented the poses, the gestures and situations." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Anonymous, Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon", 1970.
1970

"People often asked if they could pose with the Kodak advertisement where a full scale woman is featured with a camera offering Kodak rolls. They invented the poses, the gestures and situations." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Two young men from Aadloun", Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1966.
1966

"People often asked if they could pose with the Kodak advertisement where a full scale woman is featured with a camera offering Kodak rolls. They invented the poses, the gestures and situations." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Anonymous (Jradi and a friend)", Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, early 1970s.
1972

"The two men were relatives and both were in the Lebanese Army." Hashem El Madani.
Hashem El Madani, a studio photographer in Saida, began working in 1948. Like all studio photographers his subjects came to him. The studio was a constant flux of visitors. It was perceived as a safe haven, where the subjects of his photographs could act out their fantasies within the conventional format of portrait photography.

Akram Zaatari, "Baqari's wife", Studio Shehrazade, Saida, Lebanon, 1957.
1957

"These are negatives that were scratched because of a jealous husband from the Baqari family, who never let his wife out by herself. 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, because they were on a 35mm roll. 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.

Zaatari combines the skills of a historian, a curator and an artist. He is interested in salvaging and preserving the past, in challenging the perceived norms of history. 'Diversity is the most important factor in resisting misrepresentation' he stated. 'Focusing on iniduality thus becomes a political mission.'
Akram Zaatari was born in 1966 in Saida, Lebanon. He lives and works in Beirut.