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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Samer Mohdad

Dates:  1964, 22 December -
Born:  Lebanon, Bzebdine
Active:  Belgium / Lebanon
Documentary photographer examining issues within the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 
Artist statement: 
How is it possible to define the Arab identity in our society when it is increasingly so narrowly identified with Islam? Unfortunately, Westerners believe that being Arab necessarily means being Muslim. What a mistake they make! Overloaded by the news media, our minds do not stop accumulating such falsities. Amongst 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world, Arabs represent only a minority today.
Misinterpretations of Islam and injustices committed in its name have led to many misunderstandings regarding the actual realities of the Arab world. I have made a great effort to accept realities without making any judgments. This has allowed me to adopt a better approach to understanding the problem that continues to feed the flame of hatred in the hearts of humans. If only we look at things simply, Islam is nothing other than the third monotheist religion born in this region.
I traveled widely for many years in the Middle East, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, studying the differences and similarities of these regions. I portrayed the difficult everyday life of the people of these countries moving between war and faith, in unadorned and very personal shots and says, 'Seen from outside, the Arab world looks like a powder keg, ready to explode at any moment, and Islam seems to be the dominating power. Seen from inside, everything is different.
On my trips to Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia I am searching for traces of past civilizations and the vestiges of old traditions in contemporary everyday life, marked as it is by centuries of clashes between and a mingling of different religions and cultures, of destruction and reconstruction, preservation and adaptation.
It is undeniable that it is a region plagued by more important problems: war, lack of food for displaced persons, the construction of new infrastructure and so on... For me, it is absolutely necessary to memorize such moments and learn to read them. This will give us a better understanding of our situation and help guide us towards a constructive future.
The Arabs - Samer Mohdad (May 7, 2007)

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Samer Mohdad
Self portrait of Samer Mohdad 
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In 1988, began working in Paris for Vu agency. In 1990 the Elysée Museum in Lausanne commissioned him a series of photographs on the Swiss army during the country's 700th birthday for a book and exhibition entitled Voir la Suisse autrement. He then began his work on contemporary Arab world. 1992-1996 he was in charge of the relations with the Arab world at the Elysee Museum in Lausanne. After the publication of his book Les enfants, la guerre followed by an exhibition at Visa pour l’Image in Pérpignan and at the Elysée Museum, he began taking photographs of the 387 Palestinians expelled from Israel to Lebanon's no man's land. Those photos were published in a book under the title Retour à Gaza. "Du", a magazine published in Zurich, asked him to do a special double feature on Islam followed a year later by another feature on Iran. In 1996 he was a jury member at the World Press Photo in Amsterdam and the same year he build the Arab Images Foundation in Beirut. 1997-1999 curator of exhibitions and workshop master at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles. In 1999, he won the Mother Jones Award in San Francisco for his book Mes Arabies published by Actes Sud in France, Braus in Germany and Dar An-Nahar for the Arab countries. The exhibition Mes Arabies started in Geneva, follow that it have been showed in Beiteddine Palace and Espace SD in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2000, the show took place at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, then in Arles during the Rencontres internationales de la Photographie and finished the year at the King Abdulaziz Pubic Library in Riyadh. Conference master “the Arab photographs and its place in the modern history” at Aix-En-Provence university, south France. In 2001 Mes Arabies exhibition made a tour in Germany for a show at the IFA galleries in Stuttgart, Bonn, and Berlin. In 2003 he published a double issue of Du magazine in Zurich “Saudi Arabia in the eye of the typhus”. In 2004 GEO magazine, France, commissioned him a special dossier about Lebanon. In 2005 he produced and published in co-edition with Actes-Sud the book Assaoudia second part to the Arab trilogy, accompanied by an exhibition part of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie at Arles in France. The same year he elaborated the project Mes Ententes Part of the AFKAR program, sponsored by the European Commission and executed by the Office of Minister of State Administrative Reform (OMSAR). The project established a field analysis of the situation of the return of displaced families to Mount Lebanon, he produced a 7 minute film and a book. In 2006 he worked on a special history issue of GEO Magazine in France about the roads of crusaders in Lebanon and start teaching photography at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and at The Visual Merchandising School in Vevey, Switzerland.
2006 Master in science of visual communication, Capitol University, Seattle Washington, USA
1990 Diploma in sciences and arts of communication, Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Université de Liège, Belgium
1988 Diploma in photographic Arts, Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Université de Liège, Belgium<
2005 Assaoudia (Editons Actes-Sud)
2005 Mes Ententes (Editions Arab Images Foundation®)
2005 "Liban, (GEO magazine)
2004 "Liban, (GEO magazine)
2003 Saudi Arabia, (Du magazine)
2002 Yemen, (GEO magazine)
2000 19 photos passent un film parle (Production Fondation Hachette)
1999 Mes Arabies (Editions Actes Sud, Braus and An-Nahar)
1996 Retour à Gaza (Collection Musée de l’Elysée)
1996 Isfahan, (Du magazine)
1994 Islam, (Du magazine)
1993 Les enfants la guerre, Liban 1985-1992 (Collection Musée de l’Elysée)  
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