The School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art invites you to a special presentation by Akram Zaatari. Zaatari will speak about a performative aspect in his work through Letter to a Refusing Pilot, 2013, which was his contribution to the Lebanon pavilion at the Venice Biennial in 2013. While stressing the importance of refusing military orders, Letter to a Refusing Pilot stands on elements of civic architecture, small-town rumours, the archaeology of memory, family history, the politics of fear and the grace of flight. Zaatari explains how Letter to a Refusing Pilot is rooted in personal history, in architecture education, and documentary practices, and how an act of refusing military order is at the same time an act of building.
Akram Zaatari was born in Lebanon in 1966, and lives and works in Beirut. He has produced more than forty videos, a dozen books, and countless installations of photographic material, all pursuing a range of interconnected themes, subjects, and practices related to excavation, political resistance, the lives of former militants, the legacy of an exhausted left, intimacies among men, the circulation of images in times of war, and the play of tenses inherent to various letters that have been lost, found, buried, discovered, or otherwise delayed in reaching their destinations.
Zaatari has played a critical role in developing the formal, intellectual, and institutional infrastructure of Beirut's contemporary art scene. He was one of a handful of young artists who emerged from the delirious but short-lived era of experimentation in Lebanon's television industry, which was radically reorganized after the country's civil war. As a co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation, a ground-breaking, artist-driven organization devoted to the research and study of photography in the region, he has made invaluable and uncompromising contributions to the wider discourse on preservation and archival practice. Zaatari’s work has been featured at Documenta13 in 2012 and at the Venice Biennial in 2013.