Sunday, September 7, 2014

Diab Alkarssifi and Ania Dubrowska: A Lebanese archive

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi
A chance encounter between artist Ania Dubrowska and a homeless man in London who would be revealed as Diab Alkassifi was the starting point of discovering his stash of 27,000 strong photo archive from Lebanon. There's a kickstarter campaign that was launched to launch a book based on the project (featuring photos curated by Ania and The Arab Image Foundation), the campaign recounts their story as:
"The book will present for the first time the work and collection of former photojournalist Diab Alkarssifi. Arriving in the UK in 1993, after emigrating from Lebanon, Diab met Ania at Arlington House, a hostel for homeless men, where Ania was running a photography workshop and Diab was temporarily living. Invited to Ania’s studio, he arrived with two carrier bags, containing thousands of photographic prints, and negatives, part of a life-long collection, including his numerous photographic assignments, everyday life in his home city of Baalbeck on the Syrian border and in Beirut, his student years in the early 1970s in Moscow and Budapest and, most extraordinarily his collection of found images from studios in Baalbeck, Beirut, Damascus and Cairo - photographs of society, family and friends, and Arab life in Lebanon, Palestine, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, that he passionately accumulated over his lifetime. These images, all that survives of a much larger collection still hidden or lost in Lebanon, gives an intimate insight into the cultural, everyday and political history of this region, from 1993 to as far back as 1889. Along with Book Works and the Arab Image Foundation, Ania and Diab want to bring this extraordinary collection to life, to preserve a view of modern Arab history, tell the stories that accompany the images, and present an otherwise lost view of this huge, diverse and fascinating region."
For a country that does not remember its past and makes every effort to force-amnesia, this seems like a promising dose of a good cure.


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