Sunday, April 20, 2008

ongoing project by akram zaatari and arab image foundation Hashem El Madani: Itinerary

Hashem El Madani’s photographic work is tied to the city of Saida in South Lebanon where he has worked for over 55 years and founded Studio Shehrazade. Motivated by the wish to expand his business, he set out to become the collector of portraits of all of Saida’s families. Madani photographed people in the studio, on the street, at home, in places of work, promenade and sometimes during out-of-city excursions. His unique archive reflects the very fabric of an Arab town that has experienced major political and societal shifts.

The Madani Project takes the archive of Studio Shehrazade as study material to understand the complex relationship which ties a studio photographer to his working space, his equipment and tools, economy and aesthetics, and further explore his ties to his clients, society and the city in general. Initiated by Akram Zaatari and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF), the project meets Zaatari’s interest in living situations that testify on modern traditions and complex social relationships as well as AIF’s commitment to preserving, indexing and studying photographic collections in the Arab world.The Madani Project takes shape as a series of thematic exhibitions, Publications, interventions and videos centered on Hashem El Madani and his archive.

“Hashem el Madani: Itinerary” looks at portraiture in the place of work, specifically at portraits of individuals, shop owners or workers, standing at the door of shops they owned or worked in. By identifying locations of 41 photographs, the project retraces Madani’s path while working in Saida’s streets, in the early fifties. In its first phase, 41 photographs are placed in 33 locations in the old city, and indicated on a location map. In its second phase, 31 additional photographs will be placed in locations outside the old city.

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personal note: photos from saida (and beirut) are coming soon...

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