Interview with Jdeed Magazine / Beirut by Clara Abi Nader

"It never occurred to me that one day I was going to be a photographer. Today I am based in Paris and work in the fashion industry while I pursue my personal projects on the side."

I am one of those persons who constantly have the need to create something, though more in a poetic way rather than in a concrete way. My main way of expression is through photography but I also enjoy writing and from time to time painting. It is how I question things and my way to understand life and to keep a trace of the world I inhabit.

Are your origins an inspiration to you when it comes to your work?

My origins were never an inspiration when it came to my work. It is true that the beginning of my photographic interests were documenting my family’s and friend’s life but when it came to photographing Lebanon as it is, or the people all around, I was never drawn to it. Until I moved to Paris six years ago, during one of my trips back home, I came back with many rolls of film and had them developed. It is then that I realized I had begun a long term work around my origins, related to the land, the memories I had from it and what it meant that I was finally able to start a serious work around Lebanon.

How would you describe the role of Arab women photographers within the artistic communities of the Arab World? Do you believe they’re given sufficient credit for their work?

The fact that I have been away for the past years from the Arab art world cannot give me a full idea on what is really happening over there right now, and more specifically to women artists. I do believe that we are still behind regarding funds and support and that it is hard to many of us to juggle in between work and our personal projects.
Moreover regarding photography and women photographers, I believe that photography suffers from a mainstream idea that it is mainly defined by photojournalism or covering weddings, which neither are welcoming to women in general. Also, photography still doesn’t have the same level of importance in the Arab art world as painting or sculpture, and what will always strike me the most is the representation of women in photography. What I would love to see evolve in many countries is the idea of seeing a photograph of a nude women and be able to desexualize the aspect of it. Perhaps this could be one of the roles I’d like to handle in one aspect of my work!

Ottolinger AW1819 / 8 Rue Saint-Bon by Clara Abi Nader