Blanche Eid, The Next Day.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Lebanon Then and Now: Photography from 2006 to 2020 (July 13 – Sept. 25) is a unique collaboration between cultural institutions spanning Washington DC, Paris and Beirut, with one shared goal: to bring into focus through photography some of the dizzying social, political and economic developments that have marked Lebanon over the past decade and a half. Produced by the Middle East Institute, Washington DC, with the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris and the Beirut Museum of Art, USA (BeMa USA), Lebanon Then and Now presents under one virtual roof, selections from two seminal shows - Lebanon: Between Reality and Fiction and Revolt. Developed by curator Chantale Fahmi, this new exhibition furthers our understanding of both the historical past and Lebanon today.
Lebanon: Between Reality and Fiction (Sept. 11 – Nov. 24, 2019), organised by IMA, featured nineteen photographers, artists, and filmmakers, many of them Lebanese women, who explored the aftermath of Lebanon’s long civil war (1975-1990) through the lens of its social, urban and geographic realities. Revolt (Nov. 14, 2019 – Feb. 18, 2020) was organised by the Beirut Center of Photography (BCP) and the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL), in response to the street protests that erupted in 2019 over political and financial mismanagement in Lebanon.
The repositioning of these two bodies of work serves as a visual storyline that provides insight into the origins of the current crisis and links it to today’s uprising of the Lebanese in the face of their country’s political and financial collapse. Featuring 17 Lebanese photographers, 50 images and one filmmaker, Lebanon Then and Now brings the Paris and Beirut shows into a dialogue with each other, revealing subtle foreshadowing and parallels across the decades. Lebanon has also been affected by the pandemic. How will this small country, whose global cultural influence outstrips its size and geography, emerge from the confluence of a financial collapse and political crisis compounded by the pandemic?
A ray of hope is found in the resilience of the Lebanese people revealed in the photographs, as well as in the photographers and artists themselves. Artists featured in the exhibition are Lamia Maria Abillama, b. 1962, Lebanon, who lives in Beirut. Born to Lebanese-Brazilian parents, her portrait photography has been featured by publications including New York Magazine, Fortune and The New York Times. Vladimir Antaki, b. 1980, Saudi Arabia, lives in Paris. He is a French-Lebanese-Canadian artist who grew up in Paris. Antaki’s compositions represent the rich cultural and historical mosaic of Beirut.
Myriam Boulos, b. 1992, Lebanon, lives in Beirut. Her projects combine a documentary approach with personal research. Most of her photos are taken during the night when, according to her, the social map of Beirut appears. Ieva Saudargaite Douaihi, b. 1988 in Lithuania, lives in Beirut. Douaihi grew up between Lithuania, the UAE and Lebanon. Maria Kassab, b. 1980, Lebanon, lives in Beirut. Her works are deeply rooted in and inspired by the political climate of Lebanon.
Dalia Khamissy, b. 1973, Lebanon, lives in Beirut. In 2010, she started documenting the families of the estimated 17,000 people who went missing during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil-war and whose fate is still unknown, collecting their stories, following their traces and taking photographs of what they left behind. Her work on this project continues through today, in addition to her extensive coverage of the aftermath of the war in Syria.
Vicky Mokbel, b. 1964, Lebanon, lives in Beirut. In 1985, due to the civil war, she was forced to move to Paris. Mokbel returned to Beirut in 1995 to establish her own studio. Tanino Musso, b. 1952, Italy, lives and works in Milan. With one of the first Handycams, a Sony 8mm, he recorded video scenes that would later become the seminal documentary Beyrouth Centre Ville, 1991 (22 min). Pierre Aboujaoude, b. 1975, Lebanon, lives and works in Lebanon. Aboujaoude’s film work includes directing portraits of Arab filmmakers. Hussein Baydoun, b. 1987, Germany, lives in Lebanon. Baydoun has worked as a photojournalist for several Lebanese news websites and international agencies since 2007.
Blanche Eid, b. 1994, Lebanon, lives in Lebanon. Her work revolves around surveillance. Jana Khoury, b. 1997, Oman, lives and works in Beirut. Khoury aims to unveil the unexpected within the mundane, and find life within darkness. Emilie Madi, b. 1989, Paris, lives between Beirut and Paris. She shares the realities of the world, while also trying to capture moments of humanity within difficult situations. Elias Moubarak, b. 1985, Beirut, lives between Beirut and Berlin. Since 2009, his photography has been widely published in books and publications. His work has also been exhibited in several galleries in Lebanon and abroad.
Badr Safadi, b. 1966, Lebanon, lives in Tripoli, Lebanon. His photography encompasses a number of genres: street life, portraiture, fine art and conceptual photography. Jack Seikaly, b. 1992, London, lives between Los Angeles and Beirut. He is a Lebanese photographer who has been documenting the Lebanese uprising since its start in 2019. Omar Sfeir, b. 1993, France, lives and works in Lebanon. He is a filmmaker and photographer who examines societal behaviour through the lens of political movements, uprisings and revolutions. Marwan Tahtah, b. 1981, Lebanon, lives and works there. He is a professional photographer who has been working for Lebanese newspapers and news agencies since 2000. His photography has been exhibited in Beirut, Paris, Berlin and throughout the Middle East.
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