Echoing a poetic, and melancholic visual, is the meticulously surreal dual portrait of Aurélia and Raïa, from the series ‘Ombres projetées’ a collaborative body of work by Lebanese photographer Caroline Tabet and designer Wafa Aoun.
Photographed with a medium format analog camera, in the old Abroyan textile factory in Burj Hammoud, a neighborhood situated in the suburbs of Beirut, ‘Ombres projetées,’ is a series that questions the notion of twins and dualities.
Unconsciously inspired by the relationship between Caroline, her grandmother, and her grandmother’s twin, this body of work examines the mysterious bonds that bind, mirror or separates two individuals, and is stimulated by Tabet’s intimate narratives, memories, and past experiences.
Growing up between Beirut and Paris, she was gifted a magazine at age 15, that featured ten years of photography of that time. Intrigued by a photograph shot by Don McCullin during the civil war in Beirut, She instantly knew she was to become a photographer.
Tabet took up the practice at Montpellier, a school in Southern France. Through her journey, she assisted many photographers working in a variety of industries. Drawn to art and documentary photography, she quickly realized that advertising and fashion photography were not the genres she was interested in.
Upon her Return to Lebanon in 1994, Tabet assisted in the restoration of old paintings and antiques for two years before working in a production house that produced advertisement and short movies. Tabet kept photography as a personal practice until she shifted her focus to the medium and decided to work in it full time.
Revolving around the relationship between urban landscapes and human trajectories, as well as notions of memory and loss, Tabet’s continual research in experimental techniques, and her use of various approaches such as realism and abstraction create a crossing between photography and fine arts.
In 2003, in collaboration with Lebanese photographer Joanna Andraos, Tabet co-founded the collective Engram in an aim to produce series and installations using both analog photography, digital photography, and video to create work that revolves around memory and disappearance.
‘#290 Rue du Liban’ is undoubtedly the most notable project produced by both Tabet and Andraos. Having lived in a traditional Lebanese house for five years, Tabet’s inspiration to trace and explore the historic house built at the turn of the 20th century and destroyed in 2005.
Her desire to express and materialize all the life and presence that once passed through the walls, she and Andraos began photographing the space, while incorporating seven different individuals.
Using several types of cameras and formats, #290 Rue du Liban’ is divided into two parts and includes both black and white and colored photographs. By using long exposure, the stifling, and timeless photographs echo the narratives of many individuals that have lived in that same house throughout the years.
While working on this project, Tabet and Andraos came across may stories such as the story of George Daou, a shoe repairer in the 40’s that went around the district on his bicycle collecting shoes that need repairing.
After the body of work was exhibited in 2006, a group of archaeologists contacted Tabet and Andraos and informed them about the discoveries made during the excavation. Their findings of cemeteries and coffins that had rituals dating back to the Egyptians as well as other periods only enriched the project. ‘#290 Rue du Liban’ was self-published as a monograph in 2010.
Though based on research, Tabet’s work is often intuitive and focuses on both the human body and the locations she chooses to photograph. In her series ‘Dialogues’ shot between 2010 and 2013, Tabet focused on the ability of the dancers to shape their bodies in ways that resonated with the space.
Shot with both a medium format and a 35mm camera, she creates not only a dialogue between the dancers and the space but also a conversation between photographic formats.
Over the years, Tabet produced many works, some of which are rooted in her love of music and video art. Her first short film entitled ‘Faim de Communication’ explores the silence of human emotions.
By combining images, videos, sounds, and intimate narratives, Tabet constructs a new form of a dialogue between herself and the subjects she is working on.