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MEI's Current Exhibition Highlights Lebanon's Struggle

The featured works capture the ongoing fight for social, political and financial justice


Pierre Aboujaoude. Tear it down. February 10, 2020. Courtesy of the artist


On view from 13 July until 25 September, Washington-based Middle East Institute (MEI) Arts and Culture Center is home to an immersive, 360° virtual exhibition entitled Lebanon Then and Now: Photography from 2006 to 2020. Showcasing the work of 17 photographers and one filmmaker, the exhibition conveys the dizzying social, political and economic developments that have shaped Lebanon over the past decade and a half.


“Through the lens of some of Lebanon’s finest photographers, the exhibit tells the story of the tensions and the unresolved issues that led to the current crisis in Lebanon, and of the protests that have rocked Lebanon for the past eight months in response to the country’s political and financial collapse,” says Lyne Sneige, the director of the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Center.


Omar Sfeir. The Lovers in Times of Revolution, October 21. 2019. Courtesy of the artist


Evocatively capturing the aftermath of Lebanon's civil war which lasted between 1975 and 1990, the show has been curated by Beirut-based Chantale Fahmi to depict the historic and contemporary story of the country.


“One of our main goals is to encourage Lebanese artists by projecting their artwork beyond conventional borders and onto a larger screen," expresses Rita Nammour, chairperson of the Beirut Museum of Art, USA and president of APEAL.


Myriam Boulos. Nightshift 1-6, 2015. Courtesy of the artist


"Lebanon: Then and Now testifies to the immense talent of these artists. This show is simultaneously a witness to the dramatic situation Lebanon is going through, a pulse of what is going on, and a witness to the resilience of the Lebanese people and their aspiration for and belief in a better Lebanon. We are also strongly committed to fostering conversation in connection with cultural organisations and partners locally and internationally. Being part of Lebanon: Then and Now is a confirmation of the importance of building partnerships and facilitating cross-cultural interactions.”


The featured works beautifully convey the social, political and financial realities and the ongoing struggle of seeking justice. Collectively the featured photographs, such as Badr Safadi's Dusk (2019) and Marwan Tahtah's Revolution in Lebanon (2019) depict the power of photography, photojournalism and the art's ability to freeze various realities and emotions which are embedded in Lebanon.

Vicky Mokbel. EDL: On-Off/In-Out, (1-4) 2015-in progress. Courtesy of the artist


“Lebanon’s photography scene has been developing in exciting ways over the past decade,” says Fahmi.


“Art photographers, like Dalia Khamissy and Myriam Boulos, have found a receptive environment and expansive arts infrastructure to nurture their work. At the same time, documentary photographers have benefited from Beirut’s active and relatively free press sector, as well as the fact that the city has long hosted international news agencies who often rely upon local talent, like Marwan Tahtah and Emilie Madi, for insight and images.”

Marwan Tahtah. Revolution in Lebanon, October 17, 2019. Courtesy of the artist


The show has been organised in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Beirut Museum of Art, the Beirut Center of Photography and the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon. Initially planned to be a physical exhibition, the show was transformed into a virtual exhibition due to COVID-19. mei.edu


Lebanon Then and Now: Photography from 2006 to 2020 is on view from 13 July until 25 September 2020


Featured artists:

Lamia Maria Abillama, Pierre Aboujaoude, Vladimir Antaki, Hussein Beydoun, Myriam Boulos, Ieva Saudargaite Douaihi, Blanche Eid, Maria Kassab, Dalia Khamissy, Jana Khoury, Emilie Madi, Vicky Mokbel, Elias Moubarak, Tanino Musso, Badr Safadi, Jack Seikaly, Omar Sfeir, and Marwan Tahtah

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