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Hashem el Madani: Studio Practices
An ongoing project by Akram Zaatari  with the collaboration of Lisa Le Feuvre
Co-produced by the Arab Image Foundation and The Photographers' Gallery, 2004

Hashem El Madani's photographic work is tied to the city of Saida in south Lebanon where he has worked for over 50 years. Motivated by the desire to expand his business to the maximum, Madani set out to collect portraits of all of Saida's families - he claims that he has photographed ninety percent of the population of the city. His unique archive reflects the very fabric of an Arab town experiencing major political and societal shifts.

Hashem El Madani set up his first studio in his parents' living room in 1948. As his business grew he moved, in 1953, to a modern space on the first floor of the prestigious Shehrazade building, which he still uses today. This exhibition of his work concentrates on the idea of the studio, exploring how Madani's exemplary practice of studio photography is both descriptive and inscriptive of social identities. Madani's studio created a site where individuals could act out identities using the conventions of portrait photography, with poses inspired by the desires of the sitters. These photographs reflect not only how people look, but also how they want to be seen.

A catalogue was published by La Caixa Foundation to coincide with the exhibition.


104 modern silver prints
11 original hand-colored prints


Spain, October 2007-December 2007
Home Works III, Sfeir-Semler Gallery
Beirut, Lebanon, November-December 2005     
Photographers' Gallery
London, England, October-November 2004
website venue photos