The Arab Image Foundation (AIF)’s work is an ever-evolving research process into ways of looking at, interpreting, and interacting with the photographic objects in its custody. A photographic negative or print, once created, remains in constant physical mutation. Likewise, its historical, cultural, and affective lives will depend on the viewer and will continue to shift.

Mina Image Centre and the Arab Image Foundation present Translating Images: Conversations with the Collections of the Arab Image Foundation. Bringing together two recent projects by the foundation, the exhibition explores the many lives that images can bear, and the ways in which photographic archives can be unpacked and re-interpreted through research and artistic practices.

Though these two projects were initially conceived and exhibited separately, they are presented at Mina Image Center side by side through a scenography that brings to the fore the mediums they engage in – be it printmaking or the moving image – creating a synergy between the two.

The diptychs on the walls were produced in the framework of a collaboration between the foundation and the Beirut Printmaking Studio, reflecting on the relationship between photography, printmaking, and the archive. Practitioners from the Beirut Printmaking Studio were invited to choose images from diverse AIF collections, spanning from the 1870s to the 1970s, and from different parts of the Arab region and its diaspora, to produce their own intaglio prints. Positive prints of the original photographic negatives were produced, each of which is displayed here alongside the corresponding intaglio print as a diptych. These works were first shown in July 2022 in an exhibition titled Impressions from an Archive, presented at the Exhibition Research Lab in Liverpool in the framework – and with the support of – the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

The short films presented here were co-commissioned by the AIF and Cinema Galeries for the exhibition Videos on Beirut, which took place in the framework of L’heure d’hiver, Cinema Galeries’ annual festival in Brussels, which took place in April 2022. Six artists and one collective work by the AIF team focused on one image or a series of photographic objects from the AIF’s collections, from which they produced video works that provoke reflection on the transformations in Beirut, adding layers of interpretation to the existing photographic collections.

Mina Image Centre presents these two projects for the first time in Lebanon, having been shown in Liverpool and Brussels, respectively, earlier this year. This exhibition is an opportunity for local audiences to engage with these works and reflect on the realities they evoke.

Printmaking in dialogue with photography

Alaa Itani
Roulette on copper plate

I see order, without dampening, and I see dampening in my house, without order, but with faith. I smell odour with faith, and I see noses within order.
I see a damp hairline, glowing in the dark, and I hear a secreting nose dripping without order.

Priest to the left: Nifon Saba; to the right: Geraique. San Jorge Orthodox Church.
Taken by an unidentified photographer between 1959 and 1961 in Mendoza, Argentina.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 16 x 22 cm.
0250sj00010, 0250sj – Parroquia San Jorge Collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Antonios Chalfoun
Aquatint, etching and roulette on copper plate

Once we take a picture, the moment is lost, and engraved upon a film, subjects disappear but their print outlives them. I chose 3 verses of Abû Nuwâs’s poem called DA’ ‘ANKA LAWMÎ (verse 1, verse 8, verse 11).
The text added communicates with the plate itself, discussing the present that we live in, which somehow is the past repeating itself.

Amira Akil standing on a barrel, Villanueva.
Taken by an unidentified photographer between 1955 and 1957 in Mendoza, Argentina.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 8.7 x 11.7 cm.
0255mb00020, 0255mb – Liliana Massud de Badawi collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Aya Zantout
Etching on copper plate
Snapshot of a passing car taken from another car.
Taken by an unidentified photographer between 1950 and 1959 in Egypt.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 7.1 x 10.6 cm.
0042ba00004, 0042ba – Ahmad El Batrawi Family collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Diala Namour
Linocut
The body of Carlos Azar.Second from the left: Dolores Barbar, his wife, and Olmas Barbar to the right.Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1928 in Atlixco, Mexico.Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 11.8 x 17 cm.0233ma00006, 0233ma – Maria Antonieta Manzur de Azar collection, courtesy of the Arab ImageFoundation, Beirut.
Fadi Almelhem
Burin and roulette on copper plate

The imbalance between forms creates a state of discomfort to the viewer, which
can be projected on many concepts without the same jaundiced state.

Sakkara pyramid.
Taken by an unidentified photographer between 1940 and 1949 in Sakkara, Egypt.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 4.3 x 6.6 cm.
0042ba00023, 0042ba – Ahmad El Batrawi Family collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Fanny Blikaz
Burin and roulette on copper plate

Une journée, je marche. Un château de sable, de l’air. Respire mon enfant en dépit de tout.
Les routes, les regards.
Des regards qui me fixent. Respire… J’ai oublié ma montre. Le temps passe. Mon poignet. Respire..
J’ai voulu prendre des photos aujourd’hui. J’ai arrosé les plantes, elles résistent.
Respire mon enfant. Un château de sable eondré. Respire, respire… Je fais de mon mieux.

Outdoor snapshot.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1936 in Jaffa, Palestine.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 5.6 x 8.1 cm.
0063ag00008, 0063ag – Alice Agazarian collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Gosha Beshlyan
Drypoint on plexiglass

Shamans summoning the rain versus kid singing “Rain, Rain, Go Away, little baby wants to play.

Grape harvest at “San Roque,” Palmira.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1950 in Mendoza, Argentina.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 6.2 x 8.5 cm.
0247az00004, 0247az – Alicia Simon de Azar collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Haifa Dbouk
Burin on copper plate

A dialogue of how objects from the past can be replaced by the smartphone which has become an essential need in our daily lives that the younger generation have grown accustomed to and can‘t live without.

Young person carrying a water jug
Taken by Pascal Sebah between 1870 and 1880 in Egypt.
Albumen print, 27 x 21.5 cm.
0010sa00067, 0010sa – Nawaf Salam collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Jad Kazzi
Linocut

I call this print Maria Justa in the memory of my late grandmother. She was born into a Lebanese immigrant family in Argentina. Similar to the girl in the photograph, she was probably raised with middle eastern traditions. Her destiny led her to return and settle down in lebanon.

Jose Muzaber and Maria Masnu with their children Salvador, Fortunato, and Helena.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in Argentina. Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 20.6 x 15.4 cm. 0251mi00004, 0251mi – Antonio Micames collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Jamie Haddad
Drypoint on copper plate

like to think that Rosa Baddour is off dancing somewhere, toe tapping, skirt swaying, moving to her own beat. To exist in the diaspora is to discover that you must follow your own unique groove.

Rosa Baddour.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1938 in Teziutlan, Puebla, Mexico. Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 12.9 x 7.9 cm.
0238ha0005, 0238ha – Nagib Haddad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Jean-Michel Uyttersprot
Woodcut
Ismail Rachid on the beach of Alexandria.
Taken by Studio Philippe in 1950 in Alexandria, Egypt. Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 18.2 x 13.4 cm.
0056ri00130, 0056ri – Ismail Rachid collection, courtesy
of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Mariam Arbid
Aquatint and etching on copper plate
Um Kulthum.
Taken by Badr in 1920 in Egypt Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 14 x 8.9 cm.
0042ba00002, 0042ba – Ahmad El Batrawi Family collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Mohamad Dweik
Burin on copper plate
From the left: Asmahan, Salma Aouad, and Samia Aouad Hamdan.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1928 in the Chouf, Lebanon.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 13.1 x 7.9 cm.
0241ha00007, 0241ha – Chafic Hamdan collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Qamar Shamieh
Burin and roulette on copper plate

In my print, I wanted to show the result of the angelic quadruplets in the photograph I am working on, the mother. It tries to convey the relationship between a mother and her child, similar to that of a spider weaving from within herself a new being and protects it from danger.

Quadruplets delivered by Doctor Thompson.
Taken by Sami Khoury in 1947 in Haifa, Palestine.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 8.7 x 12 cm.
0077kh00018, 0077kh – Sami Khoury collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Ramy Saad
Burin and roulette on copper plate

2800 B.C. a Chinese legend tells the story of a huge flood that destroyed crops and land, ‘Lo Shu” or “scroll of the river Lo”. The people offered sacrifices to the river God to calm his anger. Every time the river flooded, there emerged a turtle that would walk around the sacrifice, it was not until a child noticed a unique pattern on the turtle’s shell that told the people how many sacrifice to make for the river God to accept their offerings.
The geometric pattern of that shell was used for over 4000 years by different cultures. Indian and Egyptian cultures engraved this magic square onto stone or metal into gowns worn by talismans to ensure longevity and prevent against diseases.

Amin Kamel Kawar.
Taken by Garabed Krikorian in 1900 in Palestine.
Albumen print, mounted on cardboard,10.7 x 6.7 cm.
0028ka00008, 0028ka – Widad Kawar collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Renoz
Roulette, drypoint and aquatint on copper plate

A random photo from an old archive made perfect sense.
It expressed the resemblance between our current state of aggression and violence and the way we were raised.

Jorge Zgaib.
Taken by an unidentified photographer
between 1949 and 1951 in
Mendoza, Argentina.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 13.5 x 8.5 cm.
0249az00009, 0249az – Mariella &
Jorgelina Avila Zgaib collection, courtesy of the Arab Image
Foundation, Beirut.
Sabine Delahaut
Burin and roulette on copper plate
Dinner gatheringTaken by Constantin and Georges Zangaki between 1870 and 1880 in Cairo, Egypt.Albumen print, 22 x 28 cm.0010sa00065, 0010sa – Nawaf Salam collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Samer Bou Saleh
Burin on copper plate

The pose of the cousins strikes great resemblance to the famous Pink Floyd album ‘Wish You Were Here’ cover photo, where the duality between the military and the civilian is expressed in the lyrics of the same song, ‘…Did you exchange, a walk-on part in the war, for a leading role in a cage?’.

 

From the left: Wadih Bulhosen and his cousin Mustafa Bulhosen.
Taken by an unidentified photographer in 1939 in Mexico City, Mexico. Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 17.7 x 12.7 cm. 0236bm00008, 0236bm – Samia Bulhosen Madrigal collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Tarek Mourad
Burin on copper plate

Abdul hopped on the boat, at the young age of 13 and looked up to the Serra do Mar with fright. What beast would come out of the forest to devour him? Debret must have had the same feeling when he made his lithograph – Vallée da Serra do Mar. Abdul never met Debred. In this print, I propose a meeting between Abdul and Debret, even through the setting, that was commonplace for both.

Georges Bassil.
Taken by Georges Bassil in 1935 in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 13.9 x 8.9 cm.
0031ka00011, 0031ka – Yacoub Katimi collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.

Between the still and the moving image

Beirut, this eternal construction site. Always and never the same.
Malak Mroueh is a filmmaker born in Nabatieh. She has directed several short films and essays around the themes of queer bodies and violence.

St. George Hotel Photographed by Eugène Cottard in 1933 in Beirut, Lebanon Stereograph transparency, 4.5 × 10.5 cm 0300co00168pg, 0300co – Eugène Cottard collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.St. George HotelPhotographed by Eugène Cottard in 1933 in Beirut, LebanonStereograph transparency, 4.5 × 10.5 cm0300co00168pg, 0300co – Eugène Cottard collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
St. George Hotel Photographed by Eugène Cottard in 1933 in Beirut, Lebanon Stereograph transparency, 4.5 × 10.5 cm 0300co00168pg, 0300co – Eugène Cottard collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.St. George HotelPhotographed by Eugène Cottard in 1933 in Beirut, LebanonStereograph transparency, 4.5 × 10.5 cm0300co00168pg, 0300co – Eugène Cottard collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Nadim Choufi
I’m not sure it’s the same sun anymore, 2022

There are moments of impossibility in knowing what can unfold in Beirut regardless of the amount of language and work done to explain Beirut. This video attempts to locate one of these moments and how it can seep into the past and future.

Nadim Choufi is an artist and researcher living in Beirut. He primarily focuses on the material histories and futures of innovation, their social and political driving forces, the visual and literary practices that surround them.

The third basin of the Beirut port Photographed by Ciné Poly in Beirut, Lebanon Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 18.0 x 24.3 cm 0242ac00077, 0242ac – Jorge Abud Chami collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
The third basin of the Beirut port
Photographed by Ciné Poly in Beirut, Lebanon
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 18.0 x 24.3 cm
0242ac00077, 0242ac – Jorge Abud Chami collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.

Sifting through the sheets of the photographer Chafic El Soussi, in the rather arbitrary order in which they were listed at the Arab Image Foundation, the beautiful, the mundane, and the terrifying all merge into one another.

The images in this video were all taken between 1953 and 1964 by Chafic El Soussi, in and around Saida in south Lebanon. The video contains some disturbing imagery, so please proceed with caution.

Mark Khalife is a cinematographer born in 1986 in Lebanon. He has worked on several feature films, including After the End of the World (2022), Sanzaru (2020), Une Rose Ouverte (2019), Speaking in Tongues (2018), and The Drift (2018). He has also collaborated with visual artists such as Akram Zaatari, Roy Samaha, Nesrine Khodr, Alia Farid, and Carlos Motta.

*1 Digital contact sheet containing outdoor snapshots
Photographs taken by Chafic el Soussi in 1956 in Saida, Lebanon 0038so-DCS0014, 0038so – Chafic el Soussi collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
*2 Digital contact sheet containing indoor and outdoor snapshots Photographs taken by Chafic el Soussi between 1957 and 1959 in Saida, Lebanon 0038so-DCS0029, 0038so – Chafic el Soussi collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Monica Basbous
Mountains at sea, 2022

Monica Basbous is an architect, researcher, and educator. They devise inter-scalar and intersectional approaches to investigate the nexus of spatiality, knowledge production, and representation. They work primarily with maps, images, and text using critical and speculative frameworks.

This video uses personal field documentation and photographic archival research to trace the territorial transformations of the Greater Beirut area in relation to the Koura region in the north of Lebanon. It attempts to reconstruct various points of the landscape while highlighting their entanglement and the dissonance between the modernist dream and its violent repercussions.
*1 Untitled Taken by an unidentified photographer between 1940 and 1950 in Bekaa, Lebanon
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 6.2 x 10.4 cm | 0001ph00060, 0001ph – Alfred Pharaon collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
*2 Raoucheh, Photographed by Louis Fattal in 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 12.8 x 17.9 cm | 0242ac00045, 0242ac – Jorge Abud Chami collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Sabine Saba
12:45, 2022

Through a spatial reconstruction of the school space using archival photographs, this work revisits childhood experiences of prolonged subordination through various instruments of time.

Sabine Saba is a trained architect and urban designer based in Beirut. She is interested in identifying and tackling issues of social, ecological, and spatial disparities produced by the very laws that mediate and govern the human-to-land relationship. She looks at emerging polities driven by resource extraction and their contribution to cultural identities and political narratives that drive national

and planetary futures. Her current work departs from the aesthetic regimes of climate modeling, and sensing, and existing codes of territoriality to explore and imagine a counter-narrative/aesthetic of land occupation.

Public event at Al Inaya Institute
Photographed by Fouad Bendali Ghorab in Dora, Lebanon
Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, 12 x 17.3 cm
0004sf00310, 0004sf – Studio Fouad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.

“Le jour où ta maison fut soufflée tu trouvas dans ton salon
Sous les débris de verre
le visage d’un homme.

Le destin t’envoyait-il, en guise d’excuse,
le visage de celui qui serait l’homme de ta vie ?
Mais d’autres photos continuèrent à surgir de partout. Elles prenaient feu et se consummaient sous ton regard.
Depuis tu les collectionnes et tu attends.
« Tu reviendras à ta maison », te dit-on.
Autant de fois qu’il le faudra

The day your house was blown you found in your living room Under the glass debris
The face of a man.

Did fate send you, as an apology,
the face of the man who would be the man of your life? But other photographs continued to emerge from everywhere.
They caught fire and consumed themselves under your gaze.
You’ve been collecting and waiting ever since.
“You will come back home,” they said.
As many times as they had to

Salim Mrad was born in Beirut in 1987. He studied film at Université Saint-Joseph’s Institute for Theater, Audiovisual and Cinematographic Studies (IESAV). Recent films include Letter to My Sister (2008), *: Design (2012), and This

Little Father Obsession (Visions du Réel 2016). His work wavers between the documentary, self-portraiture, and experimental fiction. He is currently working on writing his next film and releasing his first music album.

1* Studio portrait
Taken by Fouad Bendali Ghorab in Beirut, Lebanon
Framed paper print, 50 x 60 cm, 0004sf00052, 0004sf – Studio Fouad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
2* Studio portrait
Taken by Fouad Bendali Ghorab in Beirut, Lebanon Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, hand- colored, 40 x 30 cm, 0004sf00185, 0004sf – Studio Fouad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Arab Image Foundation team
One minute of Fairuz moving, 2022
The photojournalist, Radwan Mattar, took 29 shots of Fairuz before he decided on the final image. How does one capture a city in constant motion?
The Arab Image Foundation is an independent association forging new pathways for photography and image practices. Uniquely positioned at the intersection of artistic creation, research, and archiving, we explore, question and confront the complex social and political realities of our times.
The AIF team members that worked on this video are Paul Gorra, Christopher Baaklini, Blanche Eid, Maha Kays, Muriel N. Kahwagi, Asadour Garvanian, Rawan Mazeh, Mahmoud Merjan, Rana Souki Omar Thawabeh,and Heba Hage-Felder.
1* Studio portrait Taken by Fouad Bendali Ghorab in Beirut, Lebanon Framed paper print, 50 x 60 cm, 0004sf00052, 0004sf – Studio Fouad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut. 2* Studio portrait Taken by Fouad Bendali Ghorab in Beirut, Lebanon Gelatin silver developing-out paper print, hand- colored, 40 x 30 cm, 0004sf00185, 0004sf – Studio Fouad collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.
Digital contact sheet containing photographs of the Baalbek International Festival
Taken by Radwan Mattar in 1998 in Baalbek, Lebanon
0286ma-DCS0561, 0286ma – Radwan Mattar Collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut.

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