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By LAMIA MARIA ABILLAMA
Born to Lebanese-Brazilian parents, in a family with a strong political legacy. She grew up in the shadow of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, ultimately leaving Beirut to pursue advanced legal and diplomacy studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and then at Boston's Tufts University at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. But she soon found that Photography and the Arts were her true calling.
After graduating from New York's International Center for Photography in 2006, she embarked on a series of portraits. The first one, inspired by a visit to her Brazilian grandmother, depicts the world of Rio de Janeiro’s Society Ladies. The ‘Ladies’ series received considerable attention and led to several important assignments from leading publications, including New York Magazine, Fortune and the New York Times, which commissioned her to photograph portraits of high profile individuals.
In contrast to the sheltered lives of Brazilian society ladies, her second series ‘Clashing Realities’ attempts to portray the breakdown of the lives of a range of Lebanese women in the context of a chaotic country plagued by years of war. Who is to blame for the conflict? In a work-in-progress series, Abillama, without siding with anyone, photographs Lebanese politicians in an unusual and daring light.
Other works-in-progress involve themes that reveal the photographer’s acute interest in people, and the obsessions, fantasies and events that shape them.
The Brazilian and the Lebanese series have variously been exhibited in the United States (Fotofest Houston Biennial, 2012), Belgium (2012), France (Paris Photo, 2009 and 2011), Italy and Lebanon and have won prizes and finalist places at international competitions, including the New York Photo Awards in the Fine Art category (2008), the International Photo Awards in the Fine Art, Portrait and Lifestyle category (2009), the London International Creative Competition (2009) and the Lucie Awards in the Deeper Perspective category (2009). Abillama's work was also selected by reviewer Felix Hoffmann, C|O Berlin, as one of the leading ten works at the FotoFest 2010 Houston Biennial and is now part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York and in private collections.
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