Photomed - Al Aawda / The Return

By Bilal Tarabey

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Born during the war in Lebanon, Bilal Tarabey grew up and studied in Paris. His series Al Aawda tells the story of his “return” (the translation of the Arabic title) to his country in 2015. Photography was a way for him to reappropriate the city of Beirut. We follow Bilal Tarabey through the streets and into the private world of interiors. In this sense he goes beyond street photography, although he adopts some of its codes. His influences can also be found in the work of classical photographers such as Paolo Pellegrin, whose taste for black and white and unsteady images he shares. He says that he is mainly inspired by graphic novels, especially the work of Enki Bilal and the new school of American comics.

Bilal Tarabey is one of those photographers who refer little to the history of their medium, preferring a more instinctive approach. If he avoids superficiality, it is because he is able to give his work a dimension that is at once personal and universal: personal because the twenty-one images of Al Aawda map out a private geography; universal because the theme of return is one of the most ancient topoï of Mediterranean culture, to be found in The Odyssey as far back as the eighth century BCE.

Bilal Tarabey has been awarded the Prix Photomed-Institut français du Liban 2016, a prize for Lebanese photographers living in Lebanon.

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