As the “abbreviation that telescopes history into a moment” Cadava, 1992, p. 101),
photography “is always related to something other than itself” (Cadava, 1992, p. 100).
But rather than being material evidences that speak for themselves, photographs are
more like “silent witnesses” in relation to this “other”, and to the reality that defines
the context of their production and reception. By listening to various voices and
stories around and about images, Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh’s A Photographic Conversation
from Burj al-Shamali Camp (2001–present) — a multi-layered project developed over
the time span of more than 10 years — is trying to get photographs ‘to speak’ about
this reality, in this case that of Burj al-Shamali, a Palestinian refugee camp in the
South of Lebanon. Combining archival, historical, and anthropological practices,
as well as a variety of artistic forms of expression — from publications and curated
exhibitions with a group of adolescents to Eid-Sabbagh’s most recent performances
and lectures that include a sporadic display of videos and historical photographs
this project is primarily a tribute to the individual, in that it is the individual’s actions
and convictions that contribute to the formation of a meaningful community. At the
same time, it examines socio-political circumstances and dynamics while cherishing
intimacy and personal recollections.
Agamben, G. (2005). State of exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cadava, E. (1992). Words of light: Theses on the photography of history. Diacritics 22(3/4), 87-93.
Didi-Huberman, G. (2008). Images in spite of all: Four Photographs from Auschwitz. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
Hirsch, M. (2008, Spring). The generation of postmemory poetics. Today 29(1), 103-128.
Kracauer, S. (1993, Spring). Photography. Critical Inquiry,19(3), 421-436.
Lippard, L. R. (1998). The lure of the local: Senses of place in a multicentered society. New York: The
Peteet, J. M. (2005). Landscape of hope and despair: Palestinian refugee camps. Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press.
Steichen, E. (1958, Spring). Photography: Witness and recorder of humanity. Wisconsin magazine of