Preserving the photographic heritage of the Middle East
A conservation grant allows the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) in Beirut to digitise two rare archives
"When Bank of America Merrill Lynch launched its $1m conservation grant programme in May 2010, the Arab Image Foundation (AIF), a Beirut-based non-profit organisation, applied and hoped for the best. When the recipients were announced, the young foundation was among distinguished institutions such as the Courtauld in London, the Hermitage in St Petersburg and Madrid’s Reína Sofia to have conservation projects selected. Now that the project is under way, the foundation’s director Zeina Arida admits she was surprised to be selected."
"Collecting, preserving, interpreting and promoting the photographic heritage of the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora are the foundation’s core activities. It was founded in 1997 by Arida and Lebanese artists Fouad Elkoury and Akram Zaatari in response to the lack of photographic archives in the Middle East and the rapid disappearance of the few that remained. Many photographic studios had sold their glass plates so they could be melted down for their silver."
"According to Arida, historical factors including the region’s instability and a long history of migration have contributed to the lack of substantial photographic collections. 'There isn’t the ‘archiving culture’ in the Arab world that there is in other regions,' said Arida, who added that the awareness of the importance of archives is greater today than it was when the AIF was founded. 'When we started the foundation there wasn’t any research on the development of photography in the Arab world - it was an important aspect of visual culture from which Arab artists could not draw,' she said."
Snippets from an article by Emily Sharpe in The Art Newspaper. Read the complete text:
>>> Preserving the photographic heritage of the Middle East, by Emily Sharpe in The Art Newspaper