FULL ARTICLE: “Narratives of Conflict: Johnny Alam and Akram Zaatari at CUAG”
By assembling objects that relate to alternately personal and public significance, Alam considers the memory of war and the communication of its narrative within diasporic communities. The Green Line is more vaguely referenced in the work of artists from diasporic communities, who are further removed from the specific site of conflict. Alam explains that “the sectarian language that expresses the memory of the Lebanese wars is neither tolerable nor comprehensible within nations such as Canada”.
The Lebanese Civil War that unites Alam’s Art on a Green Line with Zaatari’s All is Well settles into the humility of the self as a particle of a greater identity. The intimate becomes a conduit of public narrative, the false communicates the undertones of a concealed truth, that which is seen as mundane during times of peace becomes swollen with heroism during war. It is the focus on ‘life as opposed to death’, as Alam states, that returns the narrative into the hands of the audience. The resuscitation of an accurate Lebanese history by Alam and Zaatari seems to ask, what is determined to be valuable in the deliberate erasure of history? And how can the consideration of intimate objects enable a more empathetic understanding and urgent preservation of histories that are being actively erased?