Seven pieces by Diana Matar and their accompanying texts were acquired by Imperial War Museums (IWM) with the help of the Contemporary Art Society.
Diana Matar’s work is concerned with memory. Often spending years on a theme, she attempts to capture the invisible traces of human history. Specifically, she concentrates on power and violence and the question of what role aesthetics might play in their depiction. Time is an integral element in the making of her work, both in the sense that her photographs are often taken at night, where film is subjected to long exposure times, but also in the sense that her work looks to the past and tries to locate its resonance in the present.
Matar’s Evidence series responds to atrocities committed between 1977 and 2011. Landscapes and architectural spaces are presented where human rights violations took place during both the Gaddafi dictatorship and the ensuing conflict in Libya. Here the images stand in as ‘evidence because the acts of violence have gone undocumented or covered up by the regime’. Matar has described Evidence as ‘a response to the enforced disappearance of my father-in-law, a Libyan opposition leader who was taken by the Gaddafi regime in 1990’. Her work is a comment not only on the effects of dictatorship on a nation, but equally on the families and communities left behind.
IWM holds over 11 million photographs in its collection, dating from the First World War to the present day. Evidence is an important new addition to IWM’s contemporary collection, exploring themes of state violence, detention and protest during the Arab Spring, and enriching the museum’s holdings of contemporary art photography.
Diana Matar (b. 1962, California) lives and works in London and the United States. Selected Solo Shows include Purdy Hicks, London (2021); Musee de la Photographie, Charleroi (2020); Rick Wester Fine Art, New York (2015); Houses of Parliament, London (2006); Fotographie Forum International, Frankfurt (2006). Selected Group shows include Museum of Contemporary Photography (2018); Seoul Lunar Photo 16 (2016); GoEun Museum of Photography, Busan (2016); Tate Modern, London (2014); Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (2014).