Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lebanese Designers: Focus on Fouad El Khoury

Palestine, 1993-1995: Gaza 1994

Born in 1952 in Paris of Lebanese parents. Lives between Paris and Beirut. After taking his degree in architecture in London in 1979, he turned to photography, producing a report on daily life in the Lebanon. He covered the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982, with his pictures appearing in Libération among others. He joined the Sygma agency, only to leave it one year later.

From then on he divided his time between Paris and Beirut, publishing in 1984 Beyrouth Aller-Retour, a book on life of a war-torn city. The following year he worked on the Egyptian cinema, while simultaneously undertaking a series of portraits of Arab authors. His work on the urban landscape of Marseille resulted in an exhibition at the Musée de la Vieille Charité two years later and longer term in a sustained interest in photographing cities: Rome, Amman, Djibouti.

In 1989 he joined the Rapho agency and won the Prix Medicis Hors les Murs, before spending several months in Egypt retracing "the steps of Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp". In 1991, he took part in two collective missions, first on the site of Petra in Jordan, then in downtown Beirut in the aftermath of the war. This work was published in an album Beirut City Centre by Editions du Cyprès in Paris, followed by an exhibition at the Paris Palais de Tokyo in 1993.

Since then, the book became a landmark in the history of photography. This inspired him a series of personal works on the airport of Roissy in winter and on the last divided city of Nicosia. After the handshake between Israelis and Palestinians at the White House, he initiated several stays in Gaza and the Occupied Territories which resulted in the publication of Palestine, l'envers du miroir by Editions Hazan in Paris in 1996. Two other books followed almost simultaneously, Liban Provisoire published by Hazan in 1998 and Suite Egyptienne with Editions Actes Sud.

Between 1998 and 2000 he worked in Turkey on a long term photographic project. He was then asked to produce a comprehensive portrait of Rome for the Jubilee year, work that resulted in a book published by Adam Biro. Upon his return to Paris, he directed his first film Lettres à Francine, based on his pictures of Turkey. He was asked by the Paris Maison Européenne de la Photo to prepare an exhibition where he showed a new collection of photographic compositions.

A catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Sombres was published by Marval in 2002. He then directed his second video Moving Out and wrote an essay on photography La sagesse du photographe, published in Paris in 2004. In 2005, he started working on two new series, one photographic project Civilisation, fake = real? partly produced by and exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial in 2005, and a video Welcome to Beirut.

Following the war during the summer 2006 in Lebanon, he produced On war and Love, a photographic diary in 33 composite images. He is a co-founder of the Beirut-based Arab Image Foundation.

Mr. El khoury will be projecting his work in the Lebanese Pavillion part of Venice Biennale.