MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image — What Does the Image Stand For?

Akram Zaatari
Letter to a refusing pilot

From September 8 to October 14, 2017
Opening on September 8 from 5 pm

MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image presents Akram Zaatari — Letter to a refusing pilot, in collaboration with Dazibao.
Guest curator: Ami Barak

Akram Zaatari (Lebanon) is interested in the history of postwar Lebanon, particularly media coverage of political conflicts. In the works exhibited, he blends his country’s official history with its contingent histories. His piece Saida June 6, 1982 (2002–13) addresses the issues of writing a collective memory and of producing images in a time of conflict. Through the compilation of diverse media archives — television, radio, and press photography — and his personal notes written when he was a teenager, Zaatari brings us back to the moment when Israel invaded his hometown in 1982. The video installation Letter to a Refusing Pilot (2013) evokes a different episode of this invasion. Taking inspiration from Letters to a German Friend (1943–45) by Albert Camus, Zaatari reflects on the acts of compassion and resistance performed by an Israeli pilot who refused to bomb a public school in Saida.

Akram Zaatari (1966) is a Lebanese video artist, photographer, and curator who lives and works in Beirut. Through the practice of researching and studying existing documents, he reflects, in his films and photographs, on the shifting nature of borders and the production and circulation of images in the context of the current political divisions in the Middle East. His work is exhibited widely. Recent shows include Against Photography, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (2017); This Day at Ten, Kunsthaus Zurich (2016); Unfolding, Moderna Museet (Stockholm, 2015); Akram Zaatari, Salt (Istanbul, 2014); and Projects 100, Museum of Modern Art (New York, 2013). He represented Lebanon at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, and his work was in documenta 13 in 2012. His work is featured in international collections such as the Walker Art Center and Centre Georges-Pompidou. He is represented by the Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Hamburg, Beirut), the Thomas Dane Gallery (London), and Kurimanzutto 124 (Mexico City).

It is the first exhibition of the artist in Quebec. 


For its 15th edition, MOMENTA has joined forces with curator Ami Barak, who has developed an outstanding program on the theme What Does the Image Stand For?. The 2017 edition of MOMENTA explores the concept of photographic and videographic evidence for the prosecution, whether images are still or in motion, raising the question of images as avatars, and focusing on the fantastical and sublimated aspects of the reality that they convey. The 38 artists in this biennale invite us not to accept their testimony uncritically. The biennale comprises three segments. The first, which corresponds to the central exhibition at our headquarters, focuses on the work of 23 artists and is being presented at two sites: Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine. The second consists of 14 solo exhibitions spread throughout the city. And the third is an exhibition of documents located at Artexte.

MOMENTA is also a vast program of public activities, talks, projections, and encounters, as well as many opportunities to meet the artists and see their works. The biennale would be incomplete without its catalogue, co-produced with the prestigious publishing house Kerber Verlag, which brings together texts by the curator and five authors who address the question What Does the Image Stand For?

Mix and Match Tour

A Mix and Match Tour combining a guided tour of the exhibitions at Dazibao and Occurrence takes place on September 23 at 3pm.

So you won’t miss anything in the 2017 edition, a detailed program is available for free at all of our exhibition partners and on
Providing access to all biennale activities, MOMENTA Passports are available at La Vitrine box office (online:


Since 2007, the Dazibao Prize has been awarded to an artist participating in MOMENTA whose work stands out for its conceptual rigour, its relevance, and its contribution to image-based practices. The recipient of the prize is invited to produce a book for Dazibao’s Les portables series, which is launched at the following edition of the biennale at the same time as the announcement of that edition’s recipient. Dedicated exclusively to one artist’s project, each title in this series acts as a travelling exhibition with unlimited circulation. This year, the Dazibao Prize event takes place on October 13, upon invitation, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.


For nearly 30 years, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal has been offering a stimulating framework within which to study current practices, evolutions, and issues associated with the still and moving image in Western culture, and to take the pulse of trends in contemporary image making. Renamed MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image in 2017, the organization plays a crucial role in the local, national, and international ecology of the visual arts community. Through its curatorial approach, renowned guest curators develop rigorous artistic programming based on relevant themes; the biennale enjoys a well-established reputation in its city and country, as well as abroad. It actively contributes to the recognition of Canadian artists — who comprise more than 50% of the artists in each edition — by presenting their work within an international context, in association with 15 exhibition partners. In 7 editions, the organization has exhibited more than 2,000 works by 400 artists, and welcomed almost 22 million visitors.



Dazibao thanks the artist and MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image for their generous collaboration as well as its members for their support.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.