3e Biennale des photographes du monde arabe contemporain. Regards sur le Liban, l’Égypte et le Maroc – Claudia Polledri

[Summer 2020]

By Claudia Polledri

The third edition of the Biennial of Contemporary Arab World Photography,1 curated by Gabriel Bauret, was held in Paris in 2019. Inaugurated in 2015 on the joint initiative of the Arab World Institute (AWI) and the Maison européenne de la photographie (MEP), the event is important because it showcases works that are often difficult to access and are not often seen in international events. The AWI and the MEP presented the biennale’s main exhibitions: the retrospective devoted to Anglo-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj (MEP) and Liban Réalités et fictions (Lebanon – Realities and Fictions), organized by Bauret and Hanna Boghanim (AWI). Additionally, La Cité internationale des arts hosted, unfortunately for too short a time,2 the group exhibition Hakawi/Récits d’une Égypte contemporaine, curatedby Diane Augier and Bruno Boudjelal, and the Mairie du 4e arrondissement opened its galleries to an exhibition by Franco-Algerian photographer Lynn S.K., Aller, Retour. This core group of exhibitions was supplemented by shows at five galleries.3

Despite the breadth of the art on offer, the event could not be expected to provide an exhaustive cartography of contemporary creation from this area of the world – a perhaps too-ambitious intention. The series of exhibitions brought together a multiplicity of gazes, in which works by photographers who live in the region and in the diaspora were accompanied by those produced by photographers from other places who found the visual context for their projects in the geographic space of the Arab world. The result was a very mixed grouping that included both engaged works closely related to political and social realities and others based more on aesthetic research. To this variety of approaches was added the reference to a region that is vast, complex, and far from homogeneous, despite the idea that might be conveyed by the standardized and efficient label “Arab world.” It was thus by focusing on the photographs, measuring their connection with reality and the angle chosen to represent it, that spectators could unearth the intricacies of the cultural and geographic space brought to bear and take account of the different gazes on the “Arab world.”…

See the magazine for the complete article and more images: Ciel variable 115 – THE MARCH OF THE WORLD


1 The event’s official dates were September 11 to December 1, 2019. However, various exhibitions had different durations.
2 The exhibition took place September 11–28, 2019.
3 Galerie Agathe Gaillard, Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière, Graine de photographe, Galerie XII, and Galerie Basia Embiricos.