A Lebanese Archive. From the collection of Diab Alkarssifi
by Ania Dabrowska (2015)
Co-published by Book Works and Arab Image Foundation in an edition of 1,500 copies, with a soft cover. With texts by Ania Dabrowska and Akram Zataari. Designed by Kelly Weedon.
ISBN 978 1 906012 62 5 – £26.00
This book was made possible with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute, Arts Council England and the generosity of Kickstarter supporters.
Launch Autumn 2015
Edition 1: 1500 copies, 210 x 270 mm, full colour, soft cover,
thread sewn, 240 pp.
‘Ania’s encounter with Diab is at once intense and ambitious as it takes place across all of those territories (in the sense it takes place across different cultures and times and practices). It is an evocative encounter, so inspiring and so enriching to her. With his photographs in mind she writes her own.’ – Akram Zataari
A Lebanese Archive is based on a collection of archival photographs from Lebanon and the Middle East, which came into the hands of Ania Dabrowska in 2010 when she was a SPACE artist-in-residence at Arlington hostel Camden, London. It belongs to Diab Alkarssifi, a Lebanese émigré, who was living there at the time.
It was a chance encounter that gave birth to the archiving of a huge collection, and the development of a new body of work by Ania Dabrowska, a Polish artist who has given new meaning to Alkarssifi’s collection and his photographic work. Her interpretation and arrangement of the archive with her own imagery and assemblages has led to a fascinating layering of the work inspired by their conversations on history, photography and personal memory – much of which is published in the book for the first time.
The archival images were taken and collected by Alkarssifi over a lifetime: thousands of photographic prints, and negatives, including his numerous photographic assignments, images of 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 and saved. These images, all that survives of a much larger collection still hidden or lost in Lebanon, give an intimate insight into the cultural, everyday and political history of this region, from 1993 to as far back as 1889.
Arranged by Dabrowska as Archival Stories, Cycles, and new compositions, A Lebanese Archive comprises of photographs from the archival collection and new works by Ania Dabrowska, punctuated by short exchanges between Dabrowska and Alkarssifi on the history and making of the images and stories collected here. The project is introduced and reflected on in new texts by Ania Dabrowska and Akram Zaatari.
Book Works is an arts organisation that has been commissioning new work in collaboration with contemporary artists since 1984, publishing and producing books, multiples, prints, special editions, videos, and internet/new media projects. It is also involved in realising exhibitions, installations, time-based and performance works as well as organising symposiums, discussions and events. Equally important to Book Works is the dissemination of the work to a wide and diverse audience, and the context and place that a particular work might occupy. Book Works is especially keen to support artists, writers, curators and designers at an early stage in their careers, and to find opportunities to promote and support their work to an international audience. Book Works is a non-profit making company, and is registered as a charity. It currently receives fixed term funding from Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation towards its fixed costs and core programme.
Arab Image Foundation is a non-profit organization established in Beirut in 1997. Its mission is to collect, preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora. The AIF’s expanding collection is generated through artist and scholar-led projects. The Foundation makes its collection accessible to the public through a wide spectrum of activities, including exhibitions, publications, videos, a website and an online image database. The ongoing research and acquisition of photographs include so far Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal. To date, the collection holds more than 600,000 photographs.
Kelly Weedon at Narrate
Book Works, The Arab Image Foundation, Polish Cultural Institute, London, Arts Council England, Kickstarter