During a residency at the Arab Image Foundation, I looked at several photographic collections that in different ways reflect the city of Beirut and its links to both the Arabic and international photo-visual culture. From this initial artistic research resulted several photobooks that were published by Beirut-based PlanBey publishers, accompanied by an exhibition at their Makan Gallery (September 2015). The installation titled Torn Folded Curled, reflected the impact of the civil war in some of the collections which came to the Foundation already damaged, photographic materials rescued from heavily bombed sites around Beirut and Lebanon.
In contrast to that kind of dusty paper-based materiality, I also got interested in the Foundation’s online database, both the textual taxonomy and its digitised photographs. Opening myself to chance, I let myself guide by the intention to find something sleazy or sexy, photographic material with a twist… that might be troubling the archive. I typed in the database search fields the words ’sexuality’ (found no sexuality in the archive), ’sex’ (yes) and ’body’, ’nudity’, ’breast’, ’leg’, ’bedroom’… These screenshots of the blue background interface crashing into multiple windows overwhelmed by the joy of corporeal indexicality are already digital archaeology, a testimony to an out-dated bureaucratic classificatory system of French colonial legacy, soon to disappear under the auspices of a new open access database.