Akram Zaatari: All Is Well
Curated by Vicky Moufawad‐Paul
Organized and circulated by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University
19 January – 29 March 2015
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All Is Well is the first Canadian solo exhibition of celebrated Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari. His practice involves unearthing, collecting and re-contextualizing documents that represent his country’s complex history. Through Zaatari’s investigations, viewers of this exhibition become witness to powerful accounts of a period marked by the violence and disorientation of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). The works in the exhibition allow us to glimpse what has been concealed from view and hidden inside bodies, and to exhume what has been buried in the earth: letters written in code passed through censors, tiny letters swallowed and delivered after defecation, instantaneous chats between lovers presented as a letter, and reassuring letters enclosed within mortar casings.
The title of the exhibition reflects the positive tone that the former Lebanese member of the Communist Party, Nabih Awada, used in letters to his mother while he was imprisoned in Israel for ten years. Performing what remains unsaid in the video Letter to Samir, Awada re-enacts the cramped writing by and among prisoners. As the co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation, Zaatari has intimate experience with the precarious status of archives in times of war as well as the limits of any archive’s ability to fully capture historical events. The most recent project in the exhibition, Time Capsule Kassel, sends documents into the earth for their safety and also to propose that we delay answering questions until a future moment.
All Is Well is organized and circulated by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Ontario Arts Council; the Ontario Arts Council’s program for Culturally Diverse Curatorial Projects; the Kingston Arts Council; the City of Kingston; and the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, Queen’s University.