ZIAD ANTAR & RASHA SALTI
Ziad Antar lives and works between Saida (Lebanon) and Paris (France). He graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering in 2001, and has been working in photography and video since 2002. He completed a one-year residency at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2003 and a one year residency at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Videos include, Tokyo Tonight (2003), WA (2004), Tambourro (2004), Safe Sound (2006), Tank You (2006), Marche Turque (2007), Mdardara (2007). He directed his first documentary in 2002 on the French photographer Jean-Luc Moulène, titled Jean-Luc Moulène and has since made several documentaries for the Arabic news channel al-Arabiya, including, L'Islam et la laïcité (2004), Lebanon and its Partners (2005), The Role of Europe (2007).
Selected collective exhibitions: La Vanguardia Cultura's Documental, Andorra, 2007; Au Centre Pompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006; La Cabane, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2006; Radical Closure, Oberhausen Film Festival, Germany, 2006; Festival Côté Court Pantin, France, 2006; Videobrasil, Brazil, 2005; Memoires Vives, The Plattform, Berlin, 2005; The Parking, CAC Bretigny sur Orge, France, 2004; Code Unknown, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2004; The Building, at the former Bank of Hiroshima, Hiroshima Art Document, Japan, 2004. His photographic works have been published in 12345678 (Ed. Palais De Tokyo, 2004, France), Performing Images (Ed. Group Med, 2005, Lebanon), Au Centre Pompidou (Ed. Centre George Pompidou, 2006, France).
Rasha Salti is an independent curator and freelance writer, working and living between New York City and Beirut. Trained as a printmaker, she earned a graduate degree in Liberal Studies from the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research in New York City, in 2000. She has administered the organization of a number of cultural events, including a tribute to Edward Said titled "For a Critical Culture" (Beirut, 1997), and a 3 months-long cultural season for the fiftieth commemoration of the tragedy of Palestine, titled "50, Nakba and Resistance" (Beirut, 1998). She has collaborated on the organisation of a number of festivals and international artistic manifestations, beginning with Moukhtar Kocache on the first Lebanese film and video festival in postwar Lebanon, titled "Image-Quest" (Beirut, 1995), and Ashkal Alwan, on the second and third editions of "Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices" (Beirut, 2003 and 2005). She is also the director of CinemaEast Film Festival, a festival of films from the Middle East, North Africa and their diasporas in New York City organised by ArteEast a non-profit arts organization based in the city. She writes about artistic practice in the Arab world, film, and general social and political commentary. Her essays, articles and chronicles, have been published in Arabic and English, in publications such as al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), Zawaya (Lebanon), The Jerusalem Quarterly Report (Palestine), Naqd (Algeria), MERIP (USA), Bidoun (USA), in addition to contributions in catalogues for international festivals and artistic manifestations. In 2005, she earned the Phillip Shehadi award for new writing on the Middle East.
ZIAD ANTAR in collaboration with RASHA SALTI
August 4th, 2006, installation 2006/07
(Detail: Lata and Shandima, colour photograph, Saida, Lebanon)
Courtesy of the artist
The Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 began on July 12th with a siege of the entire country by sea and air. The stated objective by the Israeli state was to annihilate Hezbollah's fighting power, and as such a significant part of the territory was deemed as open targets for intense shelling, by air, land and sea. It was not clear how or when the assault would end, within days of the military campaign diplomatic missions began to evacuate their nationals (or passport-holders) out of Lebanon. Sri Lanki, Filippino, Indonesian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Bangladeshi communities residing in Lebanon mostly employed by families as household, domestic, low-wage labor force were also given opportunities (brokered by their governments) to leave the country and escape exposure to extreme danger. A large number of this labor force is held under conditions of severe duress by their employers, their passports and work permits withheld, etc. In order to escape danger, many left surreptitiously.
This installation uses photographic representations of four women who remained with their employers' families during the war, in Saida, the northernmost city in the south Lebanon. As the Israeli military strategy was to dismember communication between regions of the country, and thus hold populations hostage, Saida was one of the first targets of shelling, its connecting roads and bridges were destroyed and the city soon became isolated from its environs. The photographs are juxtaposed with another photograph from a page of classified ads in one of the largest running dailies in the country (renowned for its extensive classifieds). The date of the issue is August 4th, the ceasefire came into effect on August 14th, so the day these ads appeared was well into the war.
The listings are in themselves a ledger of the absurdity of everyday life in the war, but they include notices by individual employers whose household workers have 'run away'. The phrasing of the notices is explicitly demonstrative of prevailing racism in Lebanese society. Workers, although bound by contractual agreements with employers and monitored by the Ministry of Labor, are referred to either as servants (with an attribution of their nationality), or simply in their nationality that has become itself a sufficient referent for their work status. The contrast is furthermore dramatic as these notices appear on the same page right next to offers for employment abroad to Lebanese nationals. Race and class prejudice combine to dehumanize a Sri Lanki, Filippino or Ethiopian national working in Lebanon.