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Conversations about archive


9 - 27 September 2013

Ania Dabrowska, Champions 1955, Lebanese Archive 2013

Gallery opening times: 10.00-18.00 Monday to Saturday, Free

Conversations About Archive was an exhibition launching Lebanese Archive, a large-scale project by artist Ania Dabrowska in partnership with the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut and the Polish Cultural Institute in London, inspired by an unknown collection of nearly 27,000 archival photographs from the Middle East belonging to a Lebanese émigré and former photojournalist, Diab Alkarssifi. 

“For many years these photographs were hidden. In these bags lay my life’s work and passion, but I often wondered if anyone would ever look at them. Now, the forgotten lives, places and ideas that no longer existed are brought back to life. The light is shining on them again.”  (Diab Alkarssifi in Conversations About Archive by Ania Dabrowska, 2012)

Guest speakers in Conversations Chaired by Ania Dabrowska Artist

1: Wednesday, 18 September, 6.30 - 8.30pm

  • Laura Carerera Independent Curator & Arts Manager
  • Michelle Woodward Photography Editor, Jadaliyya Magazine, Beirut
  • Christiane Monarchi Editor, Photomonitor
  • Diab Alkarssifi Collection Owner

2: Wednesday, 25 September, 6.30 - 8.30pm

  • Mariam Motamedi-Fraser Goldsmiths College
  • Jane Rolo Director of Book Works
  • Sue Steward Arts Writer, Curator, Journalist
  • Zeina Arida Director, Arab Image Foundation, Beirut

Covering over 100 years of socio-political and cultural history of Lebanon and the Middle East (c.1889 – 1993), Diab Alkarssifi’s collection documents family and public life, celebrations and politics, his student years in the 70s Moscow and Budapest, the Lebanese Civil Wars, and countless events in his home city of Baalbeck.  Part of the collection comes from small photographic studios from various cities of the Middle East, including Beirut, Damascus, and Cairo.  The collection was split up when Diab Alkarssifi immigrated to the UK in 1993, leaving majority of it in Lebanon, and bringing as much as he could carry with him to London.  It was hidden for 17 years, until 2010, when Diab Alkarssifi brought it to Ania Dabrowska's studio at Arlington.  Arlington is a landmark London hostel for homeless men and women, and as a resident at the time, Diab engaged in the Creative Space programme, which Ania was running as part of her SPACE Artist Residency (2010 – 2012).

Ania Dabrowska aims to present her own contemporary responses to this archival material in an artist’s book and a new series of work, to preserve the collection by constructing an online archive, and to generate public dialogue about impact of archives on contemporary art and culture – Conversations About Archive.  Four Corners' exhibition is the first in a series of events, which will launch the multi-platform project outputs to London, Beirut and online audiences over a period of six months until Spring 2014. 

The exhibition pushes the boundaries of thinking about fine art photography by making visible the processes that shape development of work and by combining multi-media elements of video, sound, text with traditional photographic works and a public participation programme.  The exhibition will include contemporary works by Ania Dabrowska, selected documentary photography stories from Diab Alkarssifi’s collection, book editing, and website development processes. Ania Dabrowska will be working at the Gallery for the duration of the exhibition on development of the book and the project’s website with Graphic Designer, Kelly Weedon and Digital Designer, Chris Barrow from Archive Agency. Exhibition display will change daily, reflecting a progress made by the project team and providing the audiences with an opportunity to observe and engage in conversations about editing and design processes.

The exhibition programme includes two public talks chaired by Ania Dabrowska with six international guest speakers with expertise in contemporary fine art and documentary photography, archives, and the Middle East culture and a launch of Conversations About Archive columns in the Middle East and UK magazines which will present creative responses to archival stories from the project from international art, academia, and cultural practitioners in monthly installments until project’s completion in Spring 2014.