• Rasha Kotaiche

A Lebanese Archive

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"I've always been interested in archives. The complicated questions about personal and collective memory and how these impact on our sense of identity frequently appear in my work. I've repeatedly attempted to look in two directions at once: turning to the past while trying to make sense of something in the present. Archives - and particularly for me photographic archives - embody these themes. I've been fascinated in photography's potential to distort or erase our histories on one hand whilst sustaining or inventing versions of our lives on the other."

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The future's history "history in the making"

  • 'A labyrinth of symbols'

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using art to unite, bond, belong

"The groupings also reflect the nature of the archive: looking through rolls of films and unedited digital folders was like looking at someone's stream of consciousness or storyboards of dreams."

"I organised these photographs according to formal and thematic homologies; the truths about symbols, signs, figures, meaning in the pictures and the connections between the images can only be assumed or imagined. There is no guidance but plenty of possible readings."

"Since we started working together, I feel as if I remembered who I am again. The forgotten people and places are brought back. The light is shining on them again."

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"Every time I focus on links between memory and construction of identity, I marvel at how we repeat certain stories like incantations to anchor our own existence. We mix fact and fiction, more or less conscious of the fact that we are doing it and keeping a balance between the two polarities."


Ania Dabrowska largely focuses on construction and reconfiguration of memory, cultural and temporal displacement, cross-cultural encounters and on the impact that different times and beliefs might have on each other when re-configured in new works.

A Lebanese Archive began when she met Diab Alkarssifi in a hostel for the homeless, where she worked as an artist-in-residence and he was homeless. After learning about his photographic background, she began to work with him and bring together this collection of archives, including travelling to Lebanon to retrieve more and make some of her own work.

The collection itself is built of over 27000 images from across Lebanon and the Middle East. A Lebanese Archive has a narrowed down selection of the images, where Dabrowska writes about her encounter with the archive, with Lebanon and with Diab; thinking about memory, the construction of identity and the importance of the archive in society.

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