Akram Zaatari is one of the founders of the Arab Image Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to collect, preserve, and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. Over the past two decades, Zaatari has used material from this collection as the basis for a larger artistic inquiry on archival practices and the social and material life of photographic images. In this text, Zaatari questions the desires and motivations that underpin the established preservation protocols. As opposed to the impulse to protect photographs from deterioration, he asks what it means to embrace their ephemerality. Zaatari looks for what remains after something inadvertently vanishes in a photographic negative, or what gets reconfigured by environmental and chemical processes over which we have no ultimate control. He tries to learn from these accidents or phenomena and deploys them as tools into the making of what he calls "informed objects," or things that can speak of what they have been through. Here, it is not simply the image that bears historical information but the material on which it is ingrained.


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pp. 65-68
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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