FOCUS ON LEBANESE PHOTOGRAPHY:
Visitors to BEIRUT ART FAIR 2018 had the opportunity to discover just how far Lebanese photography has come over the past century at the Focus exhibition, titled « Across Boundaries ». Laid out over almost 500m2, the exhibition was set to reveal the way in which local talents have broken free from stereotypes to reach artistic maturity and brilliance in equal measure.
This exceptional event of unprecedented scope created a dialogue between generations of artists, showcasing over 100 works of art and installations, representing Lebanese photographic production from the 1900s to the present day.
The exhibition explored three themes, with the focus on creating and encouraging a conversation, inviting visitors to not only discover the heritage of Lebanese photography, but to ask questions about themselves as they do so.
The first theme of Territory has landscape in the broadest sense at its center, depicted by magnificent works from Manoug Alémian and Roland Sidawy alongside others, showcasing a more contemporary approach by Nadim Asfar, Randa Mirza and Tanya Traboulsi. Visitors will find a rich variety of interpretations of the theme, in which the landscape is transformed by the photographer into a universal territory or an intimate one.
Centered on The Document, the second theme explored Lebanon’s history. Photojournalists from 1975 to 1990, alongside visual artists, such as Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Walid Raad, Akram Zaatari and many others, resurrect memories, creating photographic works of a testimonial nature. In this section, artists raise questions about the senselessness and futility of war by highlighting the far-reaching and damaging effects it produces. These photographs take in both factual and fictional narrative forms, helping to also reveal the artists’ beliefs and points of view.
Intimate was the title of the third theme, which did put the emphasis on the earthly body and the essence of beings. The works of Saro, Ziad Antar and Gilbert Hage were among those featured here, with the artists questioning this complex notion. Sub-themes examined include eroticism, vanity and the topical issue of the self-portrait.
Tarek Nahas had also decided to pay a special tribute to Lebanese collectors, who have, through their ongoing support, allowed photography to take its rightful place on the Lebanese art scene, and for this purpose, Roger Moukarzel showed a commissioned photographic project especially dedicated to the collectors. This project allowed visitors to make the ultimate crossing and immerse themselves in the artistic production of the exhibition itself, while extending their reach beyond their own borders.
It was accompanied by a series of roundtable talks and the publication of a catalogue, including a text by Tatyana Frank, director of the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne.
Curator : Tarek Nahas
Artistic Director : Marine Bougaran
Artistic advisor : Laurence Nahas
«ACROSS BOUNDARIES » was made possible thanks to the support of Byblos Bank, La Régie Libanaise Des Tabacs Et Tombacs and the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon.