The Third Line is pleased to present a solo presentation of Fouad Elkoury at Art Basel 2018. The selection of Fouad’s photographs taken between 1982 and 1995 looks at the recurring imagery of crumbling or abandoned domestic spaces as a testimony to the devastating realities in war-torn Beirut and Palestine.
Fouad gained recognition after turning to photography to document daily life in Lebanon during the Civil War (1977-1990). However, “Fouad Elkoury is not a war photographer, as he is sometimes categorized,” insists writer, editor and actor Manal Khader , “Elkoury is a photographer of intimacy. War happened to invade his intimate space.” The traces of war registered on the surfaces of fractured buildings and the interiors of abandoned homes captured in Fouad’s works record the destructive footprints and the carryover into the intimate spaces in which we live. Each image is captured with a balance of reporting and nostalgic storytelling – both tragic and tender.
The works on display at Art Basel look at Fouad’s multi-faceted photographic oeuvre and span over various series but are bound together by the artist’s preoccupation with place and presence. The photographs vary in sizes, are disposed on shelves and hung on the walls like memorabilia. Some are displayed in a linear, classical fashion, mirroring the work’s photojournalistic element, while others are shown in small sizes, forcing proximity and intimacy with the viewer. His works become a nomadic experience, retracing and retelling the steps of the artist with each photo taking us from place to place. The violence of the narrative slowly begins to fade into the background and gives way to the artist’s wistful longing for remembrance. Together, Fouad’s works propose a reconsideration on the notion of inhabitation, its disruption, and its transition from hospitable into hostile. They reveal the consequences of an assault on the domestic.
“These pictures were shot out of rage in Beirut after the end of the civil war when the authorities, in the general indifference, were pulling down most buildings that composed the city centre,” says Fouad of his works The Opera House (1994) and The Bullet Rigged Curtain (1995), both on view at Art Basel. “It is only now that the question of their beauty emerges, the beauty of what is no longer there, the beauty of a smile that I caught before it went away, drowned into the sea.”