Click, Click: The Repetition of Photographic Subject Matter in the 19th Century
Attributed to Félix BonfilsBalbek. Pierre du midi, MonolitheCirca 1867-1876Albumen print mounted on board, in album35 x 47 cmThe Fouad Debbas Collection / Sursock Museum
Opening reception: Thursday 2 November from 18:00 to 21:00.
About the exhibition
They all deal with the same subject matter! Félix and Adrien Bonfils, Tancrède Dumas, and Jean-Baptiste Charlier all share a more or less identical repertoire of images.
Like tourists checking off visited sites, photographers based in the Middle East in the 19th century roamed the land with the aim of sharing views from across the Orient with a Western audience. In this way, Baalbek, Palmyra, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem became topoi, or commonplaces.
Prints of these sites – some inhabited, some desert – proliferated with each new visit, and met certain criteria aiming to evoke either a Bedouin Orient frozen in time, or on the contrary, a modernizing Orient. Whatever message these photographers intended to convey, they all copied each other, contributing thereby to the creation of a common imaginary.