Gods of the frontier. Social archetypes of the Eastern Mediterranean. For a biology of images 1.
I am interested to stop talking about the big issues, the war and historical events in Lebanon, in order to focus on how its society behaves since acquiring independence from the French mandate in the 40s of the last century, up till the outbreak civil war breaks out in 1975.
To do this, I have chosen images from the collections that the Arab Image Foundation treasures in their Beirut headquarters: the archives of the newspaper An-Naharand the photographer Emile Boulos Divers.
The photographic images chosen from the archives portray individuals and are susceptible to being read as a symbolic key from the social archetype they represent. Each one is the object-subject from which my analysis of the imaginary of a society with a collective identity starts. Individuals who offer revealing poses before the photographer, with an intentionality that shows, through conscious and unconscious elements, the world they inhabit as they interpret it: the happy girl in her family environment, the sensual couple in love, walking in front of the sea, the male body as a god-like icon, the proud father of his young child, the saviour, the caretaker, … they bear witness to the archetypal events and themes that articulate their life: death, creation, revenge, family, desire, struggle, puberty …
They are the psychological archetypes that make up a collectivity. Day-to-day images, all with a disturbing element through which we can scrutinize signs that reveal references about Lebanon and its society. The images are not of interest per se, nor is it sought to highlight their photographic quality, which is evident in all of them. The sole purpose of the exercise is to identify the aspirational and self-defining symbology of a historical moment in the society of that fascinating and complex country that is Lebanon.