• Rasha Kotaiche

On Photography in Lebanon


On Photography in Lebanon is a collection of stories and essays from 40 contributors; presenting 380 photographs from the 19th century to the present day. The essays and stories examine histories, techniques and practices of photography in Lebanon.


The use of this book is to help with my own critical essay writing, where the topics in this book are more directed to my own research practice, as well as helping develop my own understanding on archives and the art industry in Lebanon.


Separated into 6 sections based on topic, I find myself looking more into 3 of them; Operator, Apparatus and Viewer, which look at the photographer’s gaze, the mechanics of photographic practices and looking at the image as memory/as narrative. Gaining opinions on the importance of the photographic archive as well the importance of the photographer and their practices.


Looking at Bernard Khoury’s “The Forgotten History” I have taken into consideration the recording of either my own timeline or the timeline of others, developing the story of a person becoming a written archive.



NOTES:

Photographic Memories

  • Etel Adnan

  • Clemence Cottard Hachem

  • Look at memories of how photographs are presented in the home

  • photographs after death

  • is it common to hang photos of live people? [Middle East]

  • Why are photos put up after death? [Khalto Khadija's photo is covered]

Page 17:

"In early 20th century, photo practices in Lebanon were developing and gradually becoming more widely accessible, partly thanks to the Armenian Photographers"

"Going to the photographers became a social phenomenon"

  • Revisit Staged photographs?

  • Photo Abel (1930)

"I had my first contact with an artistic sensibility; it showed me a new way of look at the world"


  • create a response to Etel Adnan?

  • Its not about the landscape | Digitally it has been lost, repeated | Place a person in front of it expressing their emotion to the place, the place becomes about memory. [Why film not digital?]

  • Manoug Alemian (Armenian) Has work in AUB

  • Sidawi Roland

Page 18:

"And Lebanon is like that: you live from day to day, it comes, it goes..."

"Non-attachment to the past" [A cultural thing?]


Page 19:

"A philosophy - derived from the muslim religion and culture, which has developed and idea of history as evanescent"

"Its like the christian notion, that we are dust and to dust we will return"

"why there are no archives in our part of the world?"


  • Pirkle Jones

  • Families experience with photography?

  • Hassan Ibn Al Haytham - Discourse on Light [11th Century]

Page 198:

Architecture: Joseph phillipe Karam


Page 361: Can the history of Lebanese Photography be written?

  • Is the history of Lebanon yet to be written?

"Collected, correlated and narrativised in a history of national photography"

"a photographic archive waiting to be discovered"

  • Bonfils Family [Marie Lydia Cabanis Bonfils]

It is "deflecting from what a dissensual history of Lebanon offers"


  • Marilyn Stafford - Silent stories: A photographic journey through Lebanon in the 1960s

  • Larry Mcpherson - Beirut city centre

  • Rabhi Alameddine - Hakawati

  • "A lost country"

  • Eli Reed - Beirut; city of regrets

"visualisation of the Lebanese as failed people"

"pose the Lebanese as tragic heroes"

"palliative narrative"

:Offers contemporary answer/belief: "you are innocent, you are bourgeois, you once had this beauty, sectarianism ruined you"


  • Michel Fani

  • Badr El-Hage

  • Fouad Debbas

"Lulling the spectator into a suicidal dream state that replaces active political agency and the state of it's citizens with the aestheticised statist-identity and phantasy citizenship"


  • what to consider when making work: are you creating a history for the Lebanese people or the Lebanese diaspora? Are you still romanticising Lebanon?

Page 362:

"2 things have been lost" - the image and a counter visuality of the Lebanese themself.

"photography as knowledge production"

  • histories of the photograph/photographs in Lebanon

  • A process liberating the photograph and ourselves as viewer-participants

  • Is a history needed? Politically relevant or socially important?

  • think about the social relationships and objective conditions: around and within the photograph - the way by which the imaginary relations within & around 'the photograph' structure these objective conditions + the viewer-participants relationship to them and the image

  • Georges Didi Huberman

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