Presented by Magnum Foundation & The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture
Featuring: Omar Imam and Natalie Naccache
In the spring of 2011, Syria erupted. What was initially a positive move for democracy and popular reform on the heels of the Arab Spring soon became a fragmented struggle for power that continues to cause unprecedented violence and destruction. A recent UNHRC report estimates there are 3,984,393 registered Syrian refugees living everywhere from Lebanon to Turkey to Egypt. There are countless more who are unregistered, drifting in forced exile and unable to return to the home they grew up in. Even as feelings of estrangement and isolation grow with every passing day, there still hangs a hope of reclamation. Natalie Naccache and Omar Imam’s stories are not about the statistics or the politics, but about the individuals caught in between. These stories reveal the struggle of the internal landscape for those who have lost their native ones, the constant uncertainty of exile, the memories that we carry with us, and the hopes that keep us alive.
Omar Imam is a Syrian photographer and filmmaker based in Beirut. Since 2003, his work has been largely personal and oriented around social campaigns in Syria. Since the Syrian uprising in march 2011, he has been using ironic conceptual photography as a reaction to violence, often publishing under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he started making fictional short films focussing on the issue of Syrian refugees. Individually or with NGOs, he has created films, photography projects, as well as workshops with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. He obtained a degree in accounting from the Commercial Institute in Damascus in 2001.
Natalie Naccache is a Lebanese-British photojournalist based between Beirut and Dubai. Having grown up to Lebanese parents in London, her work challenges preconceived ideas of the Middle East in today’s society. Her photographs have been published in various international publications such as the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, D la Repubblica, The Independent, Monocle, The Sunday Times Magazine, Esquire, and Marie Claire. Naccache holds a BA Photojournalism degree from London College of Communication and a Diploma of Art Foundation from Camberwell College of Arts, London.
Amidst major societal transformations, most visual documentation in the Arab region is funneled through mass media outlets, with little opportunity for local documentary photographers to produce creative long-form stories. The Arab Documentary Photography Program, launched in 2014 by The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Prince Claus Fund, and Magnum Foundation, is a initiative that stimulates the production of compelling work by Arab photographers working across a range of experimental styles of storytelling.
The Arab Fund For Arts and Culture (AFAC) is an independent initiative that funds individuals and organizations in the arts to facilitate cultural exchange and cooperation across the Arab world and globally. AFAC envisions a thriving Arab art and cultural scene, one that is confident in its expression, open to dialogue, accessible to all and sustained locally by committed patrons.
Magnum Foundation (MF) was established by photographers of Magnum Photos to embrace the challenges of the shifting media landscape at the intersection of art and journalism. Championing independent documentary photography that fosters empathy, engagement and social change, MF brings together a collaborative community of activists, artists, and technologists to sustain meaningful storytelling with lasting impact.