Middle East & Africa

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

“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.
Madani records the poses, clothes and behaviour of his clients reflecting the social and political context in which they lived as well as the norms and the taboos. He portrays anonymous personages, people who normally fall below the radar of public interest.

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.