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Akram Zaatari, This Day, 2003, video, color, sound, 86 minutes. Installation view, 2012. Photo: Blaise Adilon.

Akram Zaatari

Akram Zaatari, This Day, 2003, video, color, sound, 86 minutes. Installation view, 2012. Photo: Blaise Adilon.

“THERE’S A CAMEL IN THE PICTURE,” a woman’s voice intones with dry precision in the first lines of Akram Zaatari’s magisterial feature-length video This Day, 2003, which stands at the center of the artist’s affecting survey at Le Magasin, “Aujourd’hui à 10 ans” (This Day at Ten). She is describing a black-and-white image taken in the 1950s by the Syrian historian Jibrail S. Jabbur and the Lebanese photographer Manoug (the two worked together, with Jabbur often proposing subjects for Manoug to shoot). Details of the photograph fill the screen while the woman continues: “The picture is a perfect picture of the East meeting the West, because the Western jeep breaks down in the desert. And taking photographs of the desert and of the camels is looking at the Eastern object with a Western optic, a camera.” She reflects: “And the spirit to document such a thing is a Western idea, I

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