Akram Zaatari
Born in 1966 in Saida (Lebanon).
Lives in Beirut (Lebanon).
"Twenty-Eight Nights and A Poem I", 2015
HD video, color, sound, 42:11 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London
The video by the Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari is a fragment of the multipart project "Twenty Eight Nights and A Poem" which is devoted to Hashem el Madani's vast photo archive and his Studio Shehrazade in Sidon in southern Lebanon (in the South of Lebanon). These photos, taken in the last 50 years, have become the object of Zaatari's analysis as a source of information about the history of Lebanon, sociocultural habits of the Lebanese people and the development of the photography itself. But unlike the most pieces of this project present video appeals not to the photographs but to the music performances that are related to 1975. Fragments of TV programs found on YouTube demonstrate how a popular in 1975 Lebanese song about love is performed by the singers of that period and modern celebrities and then amateur YouTube videos follow showing how to dance hustle to the worldwide disco hit of the same year "Do the Hustle" by the American Van McCoy. Products of the pop culture demonstrated by the video doubtlessly reflect "zeitgeist" and display collective sub- consciousness, which lives by phantasy. Captivating and seducing phantasm gives pleasure and strives to take away from unbearable Real. As Jacques Lacan said: "[A man] will make an effective contribution to the collective undertaking in his daily work and will be able to occupy his leisure time with all the pleasures of a profuse culture which — providing everything from detective novels to historical memoirs and from educational lectures to the orthopedics of group relations — will give him the wherewithal to forget his own existence". What does the magic world of pop culture conceal in this video? As the artist's commentary shown on the screen witnesses, this event is the assassination of the popular politician Maarouf Saad, which sparked the Lebanese Civil War that defined the life in the country for the next 15 years.
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