akram zaatari - the script
Modern Art Oxford presents a solo exhibition of works by renowned Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari (b. 1966, Saida, Lebanon). This thought-provoking show explores Zaatari’s on-going fascination with how people choose to present themselves to the outside world.
The exhibition includes a major new video work, The Script (2018), which is born out of the artist’s research into online content connected with the Arab world. Exploring YouTube using relatively neutral search terms such as ‘father and son’, Zaatari discovered multiple films depicting fathers praying. Despite being produced by different men from different regions in the Middle East, Zaatari observed telling similarities in content which depicted men fulfilling the duty of salah – the ritual of five daily prayers undertaken by practicing Muslims – within a domestic setting. As breaking off from prayer is often frowned upon, the fathers continue praying despite their children’s mischievous attempts to distract them. In The Script, Zaatari presents a filmed re-enactment of these touching moments, paying homage to dual commitment to faith and fatherhood.
Also included is the video installation Dance to the End of Love (2011), which explores Arab male identity through a montage of clips uploaded to YouTube by men in Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Showing content similarities across generations and borders, Zaatari’s montage depicts young men behaving in ways that exaggerate their masculinity.