Camille Zakharia was born in Tripoli, Lebanon (1962) and lives between Bahrain and Canada. As one of the proverbial exiles of the decades-long Lebanese Civil War, Zakharia’s itinerary is an unusual tale of immigration, between the United States, Turkey, Greece, and ultimately Canada and Bahrain. The celebrated photographer, graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, is an experienced surveyor of the contemporary human condition as it has become inherently entangled with processes of migration, immigration, globalization and displacement.


His photography work is not simply a travel documentary but an open book riddled with questions: What if things could be read differently? The possibilities of memory as a molten material are brought to life with discreet accuracy.


Zakharia investigates the manner in which visual representation of everyday life is altered by historical and political circumstances, dislocating images of the past from their position of safety, translating them into an open field of hesitation. Dwelling on the controlled accident of the camera, he then exchanges the objective value of visually narrated experience for syntactically staged deconstructions through patient manual re-arrangement in the form of collage. While the documents appear seemly intact, his interventions explore the limits of the historical in the era of image reproduction. The artist is always in the search for the fleeting moment which has already vanished once it has been captured; then follows the arrangement into a coherent whole which is only apparent and no longer tangible.


From his earlier work on the lives and personal stories of Arab immigrants in North America to his “Markings” series, based on texture photographs of urban objects – serving as metaphors – such as asphalt and paint, he constructs irredeemable solids sculpted into patterns, carefully staged as wholeness. Zakharia’s “Coastal Promenade”, commissioned by Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture as a part of “Reclaim Bahrain”, the Golden Lion-winning pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennial is an in-depth visual study of the archipelago’s coastline decay, devastated by industrial pollution and urbanization. The project surveys urban memory at the very moment of its disappearance, becoming an art historical document charged with the power of both longing and imagination. 


His recent project, “Belonging”, showcased by Albareh during Art Dubai 2013, sums up not only the maturity of the artist’s practice but also his life story, documenting the lives of expatriates living in Bahrain, and yet simultaneously exploring the different ways in which belonging – and living – can be read in a place subject to constant transformation. Camille Zakharia has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the Middle East, Europe and North America. In 2009, he was a finalist in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize for Islamic Art. His work was recently showcased at the Albert Kahn Museum in Boulougne-Billancourt, France and in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s first national pavilion at the 55th Venice Art Biennial.