artists / researchers


Ziad Antar


2010 | video | 1' | drawing and animation : Ghassan Halawani

production Suspended spaces

During a lunch in a tavern in a very small Cypriot village, not far from a Muslim hamlet abandoned since the 1974 partition, Ziad Antar noticed a witty little poster affixed in the toilets, depicting two donkeys drawn in silhouette.  They are attached to each other but each one is pulling in a different direction to try and reach the leaves of bushes growing in front of them.  After each  one vainly tries to be the strongest, the two donkeys stop, exhausted, sit down and look at each other, with a question mark underlining their disarray.  They then decide to go and graze on the same bush.

Ziad Antar still remembers that naïve allegory of separation and has produced an animated version.  The video underscores the rudimentary lines of the original drawing, proposing a traditional animation, based on drawings made by hand, with pencil.  It is  exhibited on a small flat screen or monitor, so as to render both the scale of the original poster which inspired it, and the way it was presented, simply stuck on a wall.  But the artist slightly alters the scenario:  after going together to graze on the leaves of the first bush and then the second, one of the donkeys clambers onto the other and Ziad Antar’s animals are reconciled in a carnal way.

By opting for appropriation and farce, the artist refuses to get involved in the complexity and dramatization of the local situation.  He broaches it obliquely, scratching at the surface of  just a little sliver of reality.  Ziad Antar reintroduces sexuality into a slightly cute representation of division, where conflict of interest is done away with when reason reveals the absurdity of the situation.  Ziad Antar is Lebanese, and as in many of his videos, the body and sensuality are at once absent but also represent hope in political crises.

Ziad Antar’s short videos present a precise idea, and function with an incisive simplicity which disarms the viewer’s expectations.  Many of his works attest to a world in conflict, and Lebanon above all, but his works invariably keep their distance from a literal political position, relying rather on details, and in particular on everyday life in time of war.

Charlène Dinhut - Françoise Parfait - Eric Valette

Translated by Simon Pleasance & Fronza Woods