Lebanese Archive

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Diab Alkarssifi

Collection Owner
What I learnt about photography through collecting.  

During my Media Studies in Moscow in 1975, my Photography professor said that it was a hobby for the rich and for people who could enjoy hobbies such as photography.  In the age of digital technology, everyone can have access to it now either as a hobby or as a job.

Ladies and gentlemen, firstly I would like to welcome you all to this talk, it gives me a great pleasure to be here with you all.  My name is Diab Khalil Alkarssifi.  I am Lebanese and British, born in the city of Baalbek in Lebanon, a city over thousands years old, famous for its ancient temples, visited by many from all over the world, including George Bernard Shaw.  He claimed that if these structures where here in Britain, the burden of tax would be raised off the British people.  This quote is framed in one of the old hotels in Baalbek called the Hotel Palmyra.  My son Khalil will translate for you from Arabic to English, which I haven’t mastered well.

I believe that a picture is the universal language through which we can communicate without having knowledge of other languages.  Since the beginning it was a way of communication between humans and Gods and among themselves, when there were no languages.  Proof of this can be seen in caves in France as well as in images and drawings found in the Mayan and Aztec temples in Latin America, the temples of India, China, Pharaonic Egypt, the Sumerian Iraq and even in the Phoenician alphabet.  These drawings and images are the key to unlocking and laying the foundations for language as we know it today.

From here we look to the importance of images in our lives starting from primitive way of communication to discovering art in paintings, letters of the alphabet and images through photography, which is developing through the present day.

This is what I have come to understand from the concept of picture and image after collecting of a great archive which today has reached over 40,000 pictures and more than 400 hours of video. My archive is mostly of my city of Baalbek and it introduces people to the way we live and our everyday life.  It shows the nature of Baalbek and its people.  However I did not know how to take advantage of them or how to profile them and more importantly how to expose them to people who will appreciate them until I was introduced to my friend, artist Ania Dabrowska, who has helped to pave the way for me and my archive collection, to expose it to those who care for this wonderful art.

At the same time, the project is an opportunity for a picture to become a communication link between the cultures of the Middle East and Europe, to help us reach an image of beauty and knowledge and move away from the slogans of murder and terrorism, which exists only in the dark barbarism.  Image is fun to look at and an entrance to envision the truth and the reality that we are still in search for. It is also a rapprochement to live in peace in a global community, to preserve it through the expression of photographs.

Thank you very much.

Diab Alkarssifi is the owner of the collection that inspired Lebanese Archive project. Born 1951, Baalbeck, Lebanon, Diab is a photographer, journalist and a photography collector.  In 1975 he moved to Moscow, Russia to study Philosophy and Media.  He was forced to interrupt his studies by an outbreak of war in Lebanon.  He has worked as a journalist for 16 years for various Lebanese media, including Al Nida and Al Akhbar, New TV, and Sowt Al Shaab Radio Station.  He moved to the UK with his family in 1993, and has lived in London since then.