Ziad Antar, The luck of the film
02 15 … 05 18 2014


Photography is all about intention. We think that the photographer must control every step from the taking of the shot to the printing. But what happens when the original film is obsolete? The Lebanese photographer, Ziad Antar’s series Expired, gives in to chance. The use of film way past its sell-by date in cameras that are themselves sometimes damaged, hands the reins of control to the arbitrary. The artist then plays with the informal drips, stains, remains of a representation. The photography of the decomposed real, with no control, blends with traditional vanity: it makes the bodies and architecture of a world that has forgotten it is ephemeral disappear.

For the past ten years, the Lebanese artist Ziad Antar (Saida, 1978) has been taking a chance on the formal vagaries that result from using silver film that is past its sell-by date. He found the film in the studio of his fellow Lebanese photographer Hashem El Madani, and they have provided the experimental raw material for the “Expired” series, an experiment in the photographic image that is both aesthetic and philosophical. Ziad Antar questions the very nature of photography, the intention that presides over the finger on the button. The altered state of the chemicals on the materials removes any control over the finished shot. The artist gives himself over to chance.

Everyone knows that thanks to industry, machines and above all merchandise, the consequence of numerous personal experiences and daily trials, the use of a camera requires neither training nor even effort. Today’s cameras suppose a rapid learning process and handing all authority to the machine. The genius of the technical gesture has no justification in the current mode of production except as easily deployed by the end-user.
With “Expired”, Ziad Antar willingly gives into a game of denegation of the technician’s posturing. The process is anything but complex. It requires an out-of-date film, provided by an old Lebanese photographer, inserted into an old camera. There is no choice but to surrender to chance! Nevertheless, it remains that the refusal to practice photography “traditionally” by an obstinate illiterate does not contradict the photographic act. It inaugurates another time when, searching for a revealed truth, one laid the foundations of conformity for the beautiful image and the principles of art photography. No irony on the “successful” image, others did that in the seventies. “Expired” refuses the verdict of the vision pre-established by the technical process and instruction. The series plays with the divergence between the instructions for use and their corruption! Where in the end there should only be but misunderstanding and failure, we end up with an object of stupefying beauty re-defines the interpretation of the photographic.

Extract of "Expired or the decomposed double", François Cheval
From the book "Ziad Antar - expired", Beaux Arts de Paris Editions / musée Nicéphore Niépce