About the Authors
Etel Adnan (b. 1925, Lebanon, lives and works in Paris, France) is a Lebanese-American poet, essayist, and visual artist. In 2003, Adnan was named “arguably the most celebrated and accomplished Arab American author writing today” by the academic journal MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. Besides her literary output, Adnan continues to produce visual works in a variety of media, such as oil paintings, films and tapestries, which have been exhibited at galleries across the world. Her writings often address and protest against the turmoil of the Vietnam war, the Lebanese Civil War, and the tragedy of the Palestinian people. Her poetry and visual works are also informed by her relation to landscape, which for her is mingled with memory and a sentiment of displacement, since she was born and raised in Lebanon, but has lived, studied, and worked in France and California throughout her life.
Gregory BUCHAKJIAN (b.1971, Lebanon) is an art historian and interdisciplinary artist, as well as the director of the School of Visual Arts at Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA). His research is largely based on archive, archaeology and narration, including his Ph.D. dissertation at the Sorbonne (2016), the book Abandoned Dwellings, A History of Beirut (Beirut, Kaph Books: 2018, Valerie Cachard, ed.) and the exhibitions Abandoned Dwellings, Display of Systems (Beirut, Sursock Museum, 2018 curated by Karina El Helou) and Abandoned Dwellings of Beirut (Brussels, Villa Empain, 2019). In 2018, he contributed to the first Lebanese pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and the Works on Paper accompanying Karina El Helou's Cycles of Collapsing Progress in Oscar Niemeyer's Tripoli International Fair. In 2019, he co-organized the 2nd Alba Cinema Encounters “Filming in Times of War, 1975-1990” for which he produced the installation Where do Filmmakers go? In 2021, he created with Valérie Cachard and Sary Moussa the video Agenda 1979 for Opera National du Rhin and the installation Hercules and Omphale for the exhibition How will it end? (Curated by Alicia Knock and Louma Salamé) based on a painting he attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi.
After qualifying as an architect in London, in 1979, Elkoury turned to photography, producing a report on daily life in Lebanon. His images appeared in Libération and other publications. In 1984, he published Beyrouth Aller–Retour, documenting the life of a war-torn city.
In 1991 he and other photographers were commissioned to take part in a project in downtown Beirut, to document the aftermath of war. This was later published in an album entitled Beirut City Centre, by Editions du Cyprès, Paris, and was the subject of an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 1993. The book has since become a milestone in the history of photography.
In 1997, Elkoury co-founded the Beirut-based Arab Image Foundation, an organization that seeks to archive and preserve photography from the region. The following year he moved to Turkey and produced an extensive photographic travelogue, the last of his exclusively photographic series.
In 2002, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris commissioned him to create an exhibition for which he presented a new collection of photographic compositions, incorporating sequential images to emphasize meaning. As part of the exhibition he premiered his first video Lettres à Francine, based on his photographs of Turkey. The exhibition catalog, Sombres, is published by Marval.
Since then, he has alternated between photography and video, as well as writing, with his first text, La Sagesse du Photographe, published in Paris in 2004.
holds a PhD in philosophy and cognitive sciences. Her research is driven by the relationship between culture and cognition, with a focus on perception. She namely specializes on color categorization at the interface of language and perception. Yasmina is a lecturer at the American University of Beirut.
Manal Khader is a writer, editor and actress based in Beirut. She is one of the founders of Kalamon – a Beirut based cultural quarterly review – and co-editor of the publication from 2010 to 2015. Manal plays leading and supporting roles in Arab and international films and in 2015, she co-wrote and performed with Rabih Mroué a theatrical play entitled "Ode to Joy”.
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie is a contributing editor for Bidoun who writes regularly for Artforum, Bookforum, and Frieze. She has traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa to report on the relationship between contemporary art and political upheaval, writing for newspapers, magazines, and journals including Afterall, Aperture, Parkett, and The New York Times, among others. In 2007, she was a fellow in the USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Program. She won a grant from the Creative Capital Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program in 2014. She is working on a book about contemporary art in postwar, reconstruction-era Beirut.
Vartan Avakian is an artist. He studied Architecture and Urban Culture at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and at Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. He is currently a resident artist at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. His work has been shown at MAXXI, Rome (2017); SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin (2017); Kunstverein München, Munich (2017); Beirut Art Center, Beirut, (2016); Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2015); Sursock Museum, Beirut (2015); and VideoWorks, Beirut (2015). Avakian was awarded the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2012.
Jalal Toufic is a thinker, writer and artist. He was born in 1962 in Beirut or Baghdad and died before dying in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois. His most recent book is What Was I Thinking? (e-flux journal-Sternberg Press, 2017). His other books are available for download at www.jalaltoufic.com. Most of his videos are available for viewing on Vimeo. He took part in the Sharjah Biennials 6, 10 and 11, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, among others, and he has been director of the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts since September 2015.
Adrien Zakar has a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. His research is on the impact of technologies of surveillance on the human experience, representation and the necropolitics of the eye in the Middle East.
Aline Manoukian studied the history of photography in California. In 1983, she covered the Lebanese conflict, as a photojournalist for the Lebanese daily newspaper the Daily Star. In 1985, she joined Reuters news agency and later became head of the photo department, managing a group of staff and stringers, while covering the Lebanese conflict. In 1989, she moved to Paris, where she continued her career as a photographer and later as a picture editor. From 2010 to 2013, she was president of the French photo-editors' association ANI. In 2017, she became director of the newly established non-profit organisation Beirut Center of Photography, dedicated to promoting quality photography in Lebanon.
Bernard Khoury studied architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and received a Master’s in Architectural Studies from Harvard University. In 2001, he was highly commended in the Borromini Award for Architecture, awarded by the City of Rome to architects under the age of forty. He has taught, lectured and exhibited his work in prestigious academic institutions in Europe and the US, including a solo show of his work presented by the International Forum for Contemporary Architecture at the Aedes Gallery, Berlin (2003) and numerous group shows. He was co-curator and architect of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s national pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition in 2014.
Camille Tarazi has a degree in architecture from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA) and an MBA from Beirut’s ESA Business School. Camille belongs to the fifth generation of Maison Tarazi, a family business founded in 1862 and renowned for the production of objets d’art, furniture and oriental decor, as well as publishing postcards around the turn of the 20th century. His book, Vitrine de l’Orient, recounting 150 years of Maison Tarazi in text and images, was published by Éditions de la Revue Phénicienne in 2015.
Clémence Cottard Hachem
Clémence Cottard Hachem is Co-director and Head of Collections at the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut. Her research is focused on photographic practices of the 19th and 20th centuries, exploring their ontological character, conventions and reception. Since 2012, she has concentrated on the preservation and study of photographic collections relating to the Middle East. Seeking to address issues relating to the conservation, digitisation and accessibility of the region’s photographic heritage, she is expanding her research field to cover practices and applications relating to digital technologies in cultural institutions
Dominique Eddé studied history and worked for Éditions du Seuil in Paris from 1978 to 1983. She has also been a contributor to Le Monde’s books supplement and worked in Rome, where her first role was as an attaché in the FAO Director-General’s office. Her first novel, Lettre Posthume, was published in 1989. In 1991, she came up with the idea for the Beirut City-Centre photographic mission. In the late 1990s, she worked as a translator and editor, as well as training as a psychotherapist at Centre Alfred Binet in Paris. More publications followed: Pourquoi il fait si sombre?; La lettre et la mort – conversations with the psychoanalyst André Green; Cerf-Volant (available in English as Kite); Le crime de Jean Genet (The Crime of Jean Genet; and Kamal Jann. (These last three are available in English, translated by Ros Schwartz.) Her latest book is Edward Said: Le roman de sa pensée, published by La Fabrique in October 2017.
Gaby Daher started his career in the financial sector before following his passion and becoming an art dealer, specializing in landscapes of the Middle East. His expertise in this field has led to consultancy work, supporting the creation of private collections such as that of Philippe and Zaza Jabre. He was co-curator of the exhibition Regards sur Beyrouth, staged at Beirut’s Sursock Museum in 2016.
Georges Boustany is a graduate of the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. He has been collecting photographs and press cuttings, as well as keeping a journal, since the start of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. He is passionate about history, started the Facebook page “La guerre du Liban au jour le jour” (“The Lebanese Civil War day-to-day”) and collects photographs by amateurs and anonymous photographers in his spare time.
Ghada Sayegh is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Scenic, Audiovisual and Cinematographic Studies, Saint Joseph University of Beirut, where she teaches contemporary artistic practices in Lebanon – Cinema and History – cinema, archives and memory. She has a Ph.D. in Film Studies from Paris Nanterre University, with a thesis entitled “Images in the aftermath: the space-time of war in Lebanese cinema, from the ‘New Lebanese Cinema’ (1975) to contemporary artistic practices (1990 to the present)”. Her research focuses primarily on historic themes in cinema and contemporary art in Lebanon.
Ghada Waked graduated in Fine Arts, specialising in Photography, Art History and Economics, before founding the Beirut Biennale for the Image (BIB) and the interdisciplinary Albedo Creative Platform focusing on digital and new media, which she directs. She currently teaches at USEK and at ALBA – University of Balamand. Her work and research revolve around economics, image theory and the interrelation of art and urban space, viewed from the perspective of critical analysis.
Ghassan Salhab is a screenwriter, film director and producer. As well as making his own films and video works, Salhab collaborates on various projects and teaches film in Lebanon. He has directed six feature films: Beyrouth Fantôme, Terra Incognita, The Last Man, 1958, The Mountain, and The Valley. His films have been selected for various international film festivals, and he has also authored numerous essays and video works, including Posthumous, Chinese Ink, Son Image and, recently, Le Voyage Immobile, with Mohamed Soueid. In 2016, he was a resident on the DAAD’s Artists-in-Berlin programme. La Rochelle International Film Festival, JC Carthage and La Cinémathèque du Québec have all featured his films. He has also contributed to a number of magazines, and published a book, Fragments du livre du naufrage.
Hannah Feldman is Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, where she is also core faculty in the Program of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and the Program of Comparative Literary Studies. The author of From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945–1962 (Duke University Press, 2014), she has also published widely on the relationship of aesthetics to geopolitical conflict in numerous edited volumes, journals, art-critical magazines and exhibition catalogues.
Hind Younes, an archaeologist working for the Directorate General of Antiquities, is currently undertaking a Master’s in museology and conservation techniques at the Lebanese University, focusing on preventive conservation and risk management in museums.
Houda Kassatly is an ethnologist and a professional photographer. Her work focuses on projects relating to memory and the heritage of Lebanon and the Middle East. She is an associate researcher with UIR Mémoire, the interdisciplinary research unit on memory at Saint Joseph University, and director of the culture-and-heritage programme of the Lebanese non-profit organisation arcenciel. An international expert in the field of popular traditions, she has also founded a publishing house, Al Ayn, specialising in the region’s cultural and architectural heritage. Kassatly has written numerous books and her photographs have been shown in many exhibitions in Lebanon, France and Belgium. Her most recent work focuses on the destruction inflicted on Aleppo’s Old City.
Jeanne and Moreau
Lara Tabet is a Lebanese visual artist and pathologist. Her work contemplates the relationship between the individual and public/private space in connection with gender, sexuality and identity. Her voyeuristic method echoes her background in pathology and explores the human body and its relationship to the city.
Randa Mirza is a visual artist working mainly with photography and video. Her practice is often related to identity, with a focus on gender studies and post-colonial discourses. Her work seeks to deconstruct and question normalised, gendered and orientalising representations by making visible the symbolic, social and political constructions in operation. Through her work, Mirza questions the nature of images and their social uses. She manipulates the photographic image to reveal the discourses inherent in all representations, on the tenuous border between fiction and reality.
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are filmmakers and artists. Their work questions the fabrication of images and representations, how imagination is constructed and the writing of history. Their interests include the traces of the invisible and the absent, histories that are kept secret – such as the disappearances during the Lebanese Civil War, a forgotten space project and Internet scams and their devastating consequences. Their films have received awards at the major international film festivals. Their artworks have been shown in museums and art centres around the world, most recently at the Jeu de Paume (Paris), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), Solomon R Guggenheim (New York), MIT (Cambridge, US), Whitechapel (London), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and many biennales including Venice, Istanbul, Lyon, Sharjah, Kochi and Gwangju. In 2017, they were awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize after exhibiting the project Unconformities at the Centre Pompidou (Paris).
Lévon Nordiguian is director of the photographic library within the Bibliothèque Orientale at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. He trained as an archaeologist, and taught his subject in this university’s history department from 1980 to 2003, co-directing – with Carla Eddé – the department’s journal Tempora. He was the founder and first director of the Museum of Lebanese Prehistory and a founding member of AREFML, the association for the restoration of Lebanese medieval frescoes. He has written books on Lebanon’s architectural heritage and compiled several publications presenting photographs from the photo-library archives at Saint Joseph University.
Michel Lasserre and Paola Yacoub
Michel Lasserre and Paola Yacoub are visual artists and have been collaborating since 2000. Their works have been exhibited at Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2000); the Venice (2003), Busan (2004) and Gwangju (2006) biennales; Plateau, Paris (2002); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2003); Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China (2008). They have given lecture-performances at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2006); Beirut Art Center (2011); as part of the seminar “Something You Should Know”, EHESS Paris (2012); Travelling Féministe, Paris (2013). Their first joint works focused on a critical interpretation of perceptions of territories in conflict zones. They are currently working on the notion of action and restoring various techniques of dramatisation to the field of visual arts. Paola Yacoub is director of the Artistic Research Practices programme at ALBA, Beirut.
Mohsen Yammine is a law graduate and author of a column on photography and culture that appears in several Lebanese daily newspapers, including An-Nahar, Al-Hayat, Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Anwar. His collection of photographs, gleaned from Lebanese photography studios, comprises more than 10,000 prints, negatives and postcards. He is a passionate advocate of the preservation of Lebanon’s visual heritage and also gives talks on this subject.
Nayla Tamraz is a writer, curator, researcher and professor of Literature and Art History at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, where she was also Chair of the French Literature Department from 2008 to 2017. In 2010 she created the MA Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies programme, which she directs. Her current research explores issues related to the comparative theory and aesthetics of literature and art, and has led her to explore themes of history, memory and narratives in literature and art in post-war Lebanon. Her research investigates the relationship between poetics and politics, as well as representations of spaces and territories.
Octavian Esanu is Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut and curator of AUB Art Galleries. In his artistic career, he has performed many roles, from socialist realist to contemporary artist, art administrator, curator, critic, editor and, more recently, researcher of Soviet/Russian and Middle Eastern art. He was the founding director of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Chisinau (1995–9) and author of such publications as: What Does “Why” Mean? (J&L Books, 2005); Transition in Post-Soviet Art (CEU, 2013); ARTMargins special issue “Art Periodicals Today” (2016); Art, Awakening and Modernity in the Middle East: The Arab Nude (Routledge 2017).
Oliver Rohe is a writer, author of three novels – Défaut d’origine (available in English as Origin unknown, translated by Lauren Messina) and Terrain vague (available in English as Vacant Lot, translated by Laird Hunt), published by Allia in 2003 and 2005; and Un peuple en petit, published by Gallimard in 2009 – and a fictional biography of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47 (Ma dernière création est un piège à taupes, published by Inculte in 2012 and Babel in 2015). A founding member of the Inculte publishing collective, he writes radio items for France Culture and contributes to numerous periodicals and magazines. His most recent publication is A fendre le cœur le plus dur (with Jérôme Ferrari, published by Inculte, 2015 and Babel, 2017).
Walid Sadek is an artist and writer living in Beirut. His early work investigates the familial legacies of the Lebanese Civil War. His later work proposes a theory for a post-war society disinclined to resume normative living. More recently, his artworks and written texts seek a poetics for a sociality governed by the logic of protracted war and search for eruptive temporalities to challenge that same protractedness.
He is Associate Professor and currently Chair of the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut.
Stephen Sheehi is the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Chair of Middle East Studies at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of Arab Imago: A Social History of Photographic Portrait 1860–1910 (Princeton, 2016), Islamophobia: the Ideological Campaign against Muslims (Clarity, 2011) and Foundations of Modern Arab Identity (Florida, 2006). He is also co-author, with Salim Tamari and Issam Nassar, of Camera Palaestina: Wasif Jawhariyyeh and the Emergence of the Palestinian Spectator (forthcoming, University of California Press) and co-author with Lara Sheehi of Psychoanalysis Under Occupation (forthcoming, Routledge).
Yasmine Chemali has been Head of Collections for modern and contemporary art in Beirut’s Sursock Museum since 2014. Since 2011, she has also been responsible for the Fouad Debbas Collection, a unique collection of nearly 30,000 images produced in the Middle East between 1830 and the 1950s – the subject of three exhibitions annually in the Sursock Museum and of various research projects. Having trained in conservation at the École du Louvre, specialising in Islamic arts, Yasmine Chemali focuses on the preventive conservation of the objects in her care, while also seeking to make them accessible to the general public.
Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh studied history, photography and visual anthropology in Paris. She received her Ph.D. from the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. From 2006 to 2011 she lived in Burj al-Shamali, a Palestinian refugee camp near Tyre, Lebanon, where she undertook photographic research, including an oral project with young Palestinian refugees and archival work on family and studio photographs. She has been a member of the Arab Image Foundation since 2008. For her collaboration with Rozenn Quéré, Vies possibles et imaginaires (Editions Photosynthèses), she received the 8th Vevey International Photography Award in 2011 and the Arles Discovery Award in 2013.
Patrick Baz has worked as a photojournalist since the Lebanese Civil War began in 1975. From 1980 to 1988 he worked as a freelancer. In 1989, Agence France-Presse (AFP) gave him the opportunity of covering the first intifada in Gaza and the West Bank. He covered the first Gulf War in 1990, as well as later conflicts in Kurdistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Baz was appointed AFP’s photo manager for the MENA region in 1996, but continued to cover conflict zones until 2014. In 2016, he was appointed head of AFP-Services for the MENA region. In 2017, he co-founded the Beirut Center of Photography, dedicated to promoting quality photography in Lebanon.