Liban-Canada via Bahreïn (détail)
Lebanon-Canada, via Bahrain, 1998
Photo-collage and gouache on paper,
mounted on triangular wooden columns
Lent by the artist
(Photo: Harry Foster
© Canadian Museum of Civilization)

" The project is about a passenger being driven by circumstances, an unplanned trip, being here and remembering where I once belonged, being torn between cultures, a fading memory of an experience once lived, a celebration of a space ahead of me [...]."

"Maybe the fragmentation of my identity accounts for why I always ended up working with collage. "

Extracts from the artist's statement and an interview

Camille Zakharia was born in 1962 in Tripoli, Lebanon. He studied in Beirut, at the height of the civil war, and after various stays in the United States, Greece, Turkey and Bahrain, immigrated to Canada in 1995. He resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Camille Zakharia
Camille Zakharia, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2000
Rawi Hage
Gelatine silver prints
Collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

A professional engineer, he has always entertained a passion for photography, taking photographs in all the countries he visited. But it was in Bahrain, in 1992, that a change was triggered and he began to view the world differently, as if I were seeing things through a prism, in a fractured way. Upon arriving in Canada, he enrolled in the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. He is currently working as an engineer in Bahrain, all the while pursuing his artistic career.

His favoured medium is the photo-collage: Maybe the fragmentation of my identity accounts for why I always ended up working with collage, he explains. In his photo-installations, he deconstructs the portraits, landscapes and architectures of the countries where he has lived, in order to recombine fragments and splinters of them, borrowing from the motif and unidimensional perspective of mosaics and Byzantine icons. His themes have also changed: the nostalgia, the childhood memories, depicted in his first collages and gouaches have given way to works based on the experience of immigration and on the life of immigrants-works often autobiographical in nature, even when he is portraying fictional characters.

The traveller, the outsider, displacement, fragmentation-all these are essential elements repeated in the works I have completed in the last few years. The common thing is identity, the search for a place to fit in.

[I guess] every place I've been, I have had a room. And maybe if you combine all these rooms in different places, that would be my home.

Camille Zakharia has a large number of solo and group exhibitions to his credit, notably in Bahrain, the United States and Canada; and his works are exhibited in many private collections. One of his works is part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization's collection.