For the fourth edition of Photomed Lebanon, the Annual Mediterranean Festival dedicated to the subtle art of Photography, countries like France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia and Lebanon have invited artists to different galleries in Beirut until the 8th of February. This year, Switzerland and Belgium are also represented. Nick Hannes, came all the way from Belgium to exhibit his collection “Fake Sirens and Real Shipwrecks” at DBeirut Gallery.
Photomed Lebanon was possible thanks to the support of major partners : Byblos Bank and LIA Insurance as well as public institutions such as the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of Beirut and private spaces such as DBEIRUT, Station and Hotel Le Gray, thus continuing an age-old tradition of hospitality led by Photomed Liban Organizing Committee of which: Philippe Heullant, Serge Akl, Tony Hage, and Guillaume de Sardes.
The press conference at Le Gray Hotel was followed by the Expo of Swiss Photographer Nicole Herzog-Verrey and the launch at Byblos Bank of Italian Cinema « Cinecitta » Expo (Photographers Alain Fleischer, Richard Dumas & Sergio Strizzi). Nada Tawil Head of Communication Dept at Byblos Bank said: « This special exhibition is dedicated to Photography Aficionados as well as Collectors to appreciate together the unique photo treatment of the Golden Age of the Italian Cinema »
Lebanese Photographers are also exhibiting their work in various galleries until Feb 8th as part of Photomed 2017 : Gilbert Hage, Michel Zoghzghi, Georges Awde, Lara Tabet, Danielle Arbid, Bilal Tarabey and many others view full program here
This year’s edition was also the occasion to pay tribute to the late great French Photographer Marc Riboud and Leila Alaoui French-Moroccan Photographer who passed away following the Ouagadougou attacks a year ago.
Spotlight On Belgian Photographer Nick Hannes:
Nick Hannes’s work strikes by its raw approach of flabby tourist bodies invading the beaches and private resorts of countries around the Mediterranean. Walls & barricades rise instead of nice sea views and shiny sand beaches. Growing up away from the Mediterranean region, the photographer managed to create images close to a reality that only a few people were previously able to feel and express. “I’m fascinated by this region where many Belgians spend their holidays. We also study Mediterranean History at school”, Nick Hannes told Kamsyn.
“It’s the cradle of European civilization, the crossroads of three continents, it’s also our sea although we aren’t directly linked to it. That interest led me to see how people live now and what are the breaking lines between the North and the South, the East and the West. Often, we talk about the Mediterranean culture as a homogenous whole, but it’s very different from one place to another.”
As a former photojournalist, Nick Hannes has the sense of detail and a critical view on his environment. For four years, from 2010 to 2014, he traveled through more than 20 countries.
“I didn’t want to limit myself to only one subject. The Mediterranean region is very diverse and has many contrasts, so I had to keep my eyes open. The first year, I focused more on urbanization and mass tourism because mass tourism is the catalyst of urbanization: tourists need resorts, roads, hotels, shops, etc. Then in 2011 my approach changed with the Arab revolutions, the Economic Crisis in Greece and the first big waves of refugees in Europe. All that added complexity to my work it was interesting to be here. I decided to show more contrasts and parallel realities around the Mediterranean.”
Indeed, these pictures are striking. As separate & divided lifestyles confront or ignore each other in silence. The photographer was shocked by the sight of coastal landscapes destroyed by urbanization and big promoters, “but you know this phenomenon in Lebanon”, he said to Kamsyn. “Due to massive urbanization, the Mediterranean coast is really not as pretty as it was a few decades ago,of course there are a few exceptions. Still, when there are mountains next to the sea, it tends to be more preserved because as it’s harder to build.”
Not a fan of social interaction when traveling, he admitted not being attracted to photographing people’s emotions, but instead the relationship between them and their immediate environment. “On the refugees topic, many photographers chose to tell their stories, but I didn’t. For me, I can tell more about our society and how Europe blocks its borders through barbed wire, walls, barricades, it’s a symbol on how we divide and limit people’s freedom. This system is illustrated by my photographic work.”
Going against the wave of showing exotic & polished dreamy landscapes, Nick Hannes’ view of the Mediterranean tells the world how the risk our societies have of evolving further away from solidarity and freedom, one step closer to greed and total loss of our beautiful humanity.
More of Nick Hannes’s Work: