Vladimir Antaki was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1980. He grew up in Paris and studied art history and film studies at La Sorbonne. In 2003, Antaki moved to Montreal, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual and media arts from UQÀM in 2007.

Antaki specializes in intimate portraits and stories with an uncanny ability to get to his subjectsʼ core. For his series, The Guardians, Antaki traveled across Europe, the Middle East and America, photographing shopkeepers or “Guardians.” These Guardians are keepers of what Antaki terms “urban temples,” unique spaces which, in an age of cookie-cutter, corporate shops, hearken back to an earlier time and mode of urban life. Antaki creates visually arresting portraits of the Guardians in their urban temples that make the viewer connect to the beauty of these often forgotten spaces. Antaki believes that these temples are the heart and soul of every city; they are what give the urban centre its uniqueness in time and place. There is also a duty of memory associated with these spaces. As so many of them are closing, it falls to artists such as Antaki to preserve their memory.

The Guardians has been exhibited in public places in more than a hundred cities across France and North America. It won an Infopresse Lux prize in 2013, and was selected to represent Canada in The Other Hundred, a photo-book curated by the Global Institute For Tomorrow (a not-for-profit global photographic initiative based in Hong Kong). In the fall of 2016, Antaki participated in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche and told the story of eight Guardians in the heart of the Financial District. His portrait of Mario, from his Guardians series, was selected by Steven McCurry as one of the winners of the Life Framer's Travellers photo competition.

Some of Antakiʼs recent series have involved telling the stories of people who live on the margins of the urban centre. Antaki came to know Wesson Dagnew, a man who can be found in downtown Torontoʼs central square every day. Always sharply dressed, Dagnew is known to most as “Tony,” and most passers-by assume he is a pimp. Unwilling to accept what is conveyed by Dagnewʼs outward appearance, Antaki sought to gain an understanding of the person behind the persona. Over the course of several weeks, Antaki convinced “Tony” to let him photograph him during his daily life and tell the story of Wesson Dagnew, the clean-living man who works in a home for mentally disabled people.


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Copyright © All rights reserved, Vladimir Antaki, 2018.
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