During a residency at the Arab Image Foundation (June-July 2015) I looked at several photographic collections that in different ways reflect the city of Beirut and its links to both the arabic and international photo-visual culture. From this initial artistic research resulted several photobook dummies that were published by Beirut-based Plan Bey publishers, accompanied by an exhibition at their Makan Gallery (September 2015). In my research I looked into the ‘EPS Collection,’ a unique collection of photographs by a Lebanese amateur photographer whose work in the 1940s -1950s anticipates the genre of intimate, diaristic snapshot aesthetics that became the hallmark of contemporary photographic art; I also re-photographed heavily damaged photos, including the collection of the editor of the Beirut newspaper Al-Yom that was thrown into the bins when he passed away and was rescued by the Foundation for preservation, as well as other torn, curled, folded photographic specimens rescued from heavily bombed sites around Beirut and Lebanon. I also looked at the Foundation’s archival database (both the textual taxonomy and its visual illustration) and screenshot the collections’ digital interface with the archival classificatory systems and the public keywords.
My premise, to research the representation of Beirut in the medium of photo-text, combining found photography and writing, aims at positioning the work in a rich genealogy of photobooks that consider the city of Beirut as photo essays. Some of these photobooks I found in the AIF’s library, including, just to name a few: Robert Franks’ Come Again, Fouad Elkoury and Gabriel Basilico’s Beirut in ruins (a flashback), Gabriel Basilico’s Beyrouth (1991-2003), Sophie Ristelhueber’s Beyrouth: Photographs and Larry E. McPherson’s Beirut City Center.
super-private (book dummy)