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OPENINGS: AKRAM ZAATARI

Akram Zaatari, Nature Morte, 2007, stills from a color video, 11 minutes.

AKRAM ZAATARI’S ELEVEN-MINUTE VIDEO Nature Morte, 2007, opens with two men seated in a drab, white-walled room. One of the men—older, with a weathered face and sad, sunken eyes—fills the foreground on the right-hand side of the screen. The other—healthier, more alert—appears, slightly out of focus, in the background to the left. The dramatic depth of field exaggerates the distance between them and accentuates the incongruity of their tasks: Both men are working silently with their hands, but the older one is wrapping explosives in cardboard and tape, while the younger, with needle and thread, is delicately mending a jacket.

The camera lingers on this scene. At first the room is dimly lit, then flooded with fluorescent light, then, with a click, plunged into darkness—a power failure—and then, with a hiss, illuminated once again by the glow of a gas

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