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The Mosaic Rooms & Hrair Sarkissian want to publish a book on the disappearing tradition of studio portraiture in the Middle East!
The Mosaic Rooms & Hrair Sarkissian want to publish a book on the disappearing tradition of studio portraiture in the Middle East!
30 backers pledged £14,097 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Please continue to pledge! Although we've now reached the minimum amount we need to realise this project, we're aiming high and rewards for donations remain available until our campaign closes on 13 December so please carry on supporting us! 

Background is an artist’s book project from Syrian artist Hrair Sarkissian, reflecting on the disappearing tradition of studio portraiture in the Middle East. With the current cultural destruction within the region, visual documentation is especially vital. With your help, The Mosaic Rooms, a non-profit gallery in London dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary culture from and about the Arab world, will help Sarkissian realise his dream and publish his first artist’s book to coincide with his first UK solo show

This important publication will feature Sarkissian’s photographs of empty, staged studio backdrops across six Middle Eastern cities: Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Byblos, Cairo and Istanbul. These backdrops, absent of their sitters, become symbols of lost traditions, cultural identity and time; eulogies to a certain period within a society and celebrations of portraiture as an art form, and of these spaces, which can no longer be found. 

Sarkissian has produced a powerful series of more than 30 photographs for the book. International curator Murtaza Vali will write a specially-commissioned text to accompany the images. Conceived as an artist’s book, Sarkissian and The Mosaic Rooms will be working closely with an expert design team to realise the project!

By supporting Background, not only will you make the book possible, and help showcase this vanishing artistic tradition, you will also be raising the profile of this significant Syrian artist’s practice! This will be The Mosaic Rooms' first publication at this level and a critical step for us to widen the impact of our work supporting contemporary artists' projects in new and exciting ways. 

Why now?

The Mosaic Rooms will be opening the first UK solo exhibition by Hrair Sarkissian in March 2015. This show will provide the artist with a platform to showcase both new and unseen bodies of work. We want to use this opportunity to support the artist in realising another first; the launching of his book, Background.

This project is only made possible with your support! To thank you, not only will you receive shout-outs, be the first to receive copies of the book and exclusive event invites, but also a limited edition selection of 6 images from Sarkissian's Background series! These limited editions will be available as postcards or prints depending on your level of support. 

Background, set of 6 images, Hrair Sarkissian
Background, set of 6 images, Hrair Sarkissian

£30 + You will get a limited edition postcard print from the above selection!

£100 + You will be first to have a copy of the book, signed by the artist, as well as four limited edition postcards!

£250 + You receive the complete set of six images as limited edition postcards as well as a signed copy of the book!

£1000 + A print from the above selection at 21 x 26.5cm, a signed copy of the book, dinner with the artist, event invites and more!

£2500 + A print from the above selection at 42 x 53cm, a signed copy of the book, dinner with the artist, event invites and more!

£5000 + The full set of six prints at 42 x 53cm, a signed copy of the book, dinner with the artist, event invites and more!

Artist bio

Hrair Sarkissian (b. 1973, Damascus, Syria) uses photography to engage the viewer in readings of what is visible and what is not, re-evaluating larger historical, religious or socio-political narratives. Sarkissian has exhibited widely internationally in both group and solo shows including Tate Modern (London); New Museum (New York); Darat Al Funun (Amman); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul); Thessaloniki Biennale; Sharjah Biennial; Istanbul Biennial; Asia Pacific Triennial (Brisbane) among many others. In 2013 the artist won the Abraaj Group Art Prize. Hrair Sarkissian is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Hrair Sarkissian
Hrair Sarkissian
Execution Squares, 2008 / © Photo: Kioku Keizo / Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum
Execution Squares, 2008 / © Photo: Kioku Keizo / Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum

The Mosaic Rooms

The Mosaic Rooms are a leading London-based non-profit cultural organisation dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary culture from and about the Arab world. We provide an international platform for the arts, particularly new work, and create opportunities for interaction, collaboration and professional development between artists, collectives and organisations from the Arab world and the UK. We produce exhibitions with an accompanying public programme of talks and events. 

Exhibitions at The Mosaic Rooms
Exhibitions at The Mosaic Rooms

See more about our exhibitions here / public programme here/ recorded lectures here/ blog here/ sign up to our newsletter here!

We are an A.M. Qattan Foundation project.

Risks and challenges

As with any publication there is always a risk of delays in production. However we are working with our regular fantastic team of designers and providers , everyone has been briefed, deadlines are set and everything is in place and ready to go as soon as we get the support needed! We are experienced with producing publications so are aware of the process.

There is the potential for delay in the wider distribution of the book, however The Mosaic Rooms benefits from having its own specialist bookshop in house to stock the book. The book will launch and be available with the exhibition, but we are committed to finding the right publisher to work with in terms of getting it out there more widely and that might take a bit more time. We are in the midst of some exciting conversations!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.59

    Every little helps! - to say thank you we will do a personalised shout out to you on our Facebook and Twitter!

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    Pledge £15 or more About $24

    Thanks! We will send you a hand written thank you note! You will also receive regular private updates on the design process, as well as the above!

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    Pledge £30 or more About $48

    Great! You will receive a limited edition postcard by Hrair Sarkissian-as well as the above!

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    Pledge £50 or more About $80

    Thank you for your donation – You will receive three limited edition postcards by Hrair Sarkissian! We will also acknowledge your support!

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    Pledge £100 or more About $159

    Great! You will be one of the first people to receive a signed copy of the book! Additionally you will receive four limited edition postcards by Hrair Sarkissian! We will also acknowledge your support!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $398

    Wonderful! You will receive the full set of six limited edition postcards by Hrair Sarkissian and be our special guest at the book launch event! As well as this you will get a signed copy of the book before everyone else, and acknowledgement for you support!

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    Pledge £500 or more About $796

    WOW! Thank you for your support! You will join us as our guest for a very special dinner with Hrair Sarkissian in the exhibition space, and at the exhibition private view and book launch! You will also get a signed copy of the book and be acknowledged for your support!

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,591

    Amazing! You will also get a limited edition original print (size 21 x 26.5cm) by Hrair Sarkissian! You will join us as a special guest at the private dinner with the artist, exhibition private view, book launch, and receive a signed copy of the book and your support will be acknowledged!

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    Pledge £2,500 or more About $3,978

    Incredible! You will receive a limited edition original print (size 42cm x 53cm) by Hrair Sarkissian! You will join us as a special guest at the private dinner with the artist, exhibition private view, book launch, and receive a signed copy of the book and your support will be acknowledged!

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    Pledge £3,500 or more About $5,569

    Fantastic! You will receive two limited edition original prints (size 42cm x 53cm) by Hrair Sarkissian! You will join us as a special guest at the private dinner with the artist, exhibition private view, book launch, and receive a signed copy of the book and your support will be acknowledged!

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $7,956

    Tremendous! You will receive six limited edition original prints (full set, size 42cm x 53cm) by Hrair Sarkissian! You will join us as a special guest at the private dinner with the artist, exhibition private view, book launch, and receive a signed copy of the book and your support will be acknowledged!

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Funding period

- (30 days)