Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (English version) is a video work in the form of an experimental documentary by Lebanese artist Walid Raad. The video focuses on the Lebanon hostage crisis—the systematic kidnapping of 96 people, mostly Americans and western Europeans, which took place in Lebanon between 1982 and 1992. Hostage: The Bachar Tapes uses this subject to explore notions of fact, fiction, and how the two are so easily and often interwoven.
In the 1980s and early ’90s five American men were held captive in Lebanon: Terry Anderson, David Jacobsen, Lawrence Jenco, Thomas Sutherland, and Benjamin Weir. After being freed from their traumatizing captivity, each man published a book describing the brutality they endured. In each testimony, an unnamed Arab man was mentioned as being detained among them.
In Hostage: The Bachar Tapes, we witness two videotapes in which the Arab detainee is personified by Souheil Bachar. Bachar is portrayed by the well-known Lebanese actor Fadi Abi Samra. In the tapes, Bachar addresses the cultural, textual, and sexual aspects of his detention with the Americans. In offering Bachar’s “testimony,” the work questions who has the right to shape historical narratives such as this one. Raad has described his complex artwork as “factual fictions,” by which “documents, characters, and stories operate between the false binary of fiction and nonfiction.”
Screenings of Hostage: The Bachar Tapes will begin every half-hour.