June 27, 2022

Impressions from an Archive

July 7 – July 16, 2022.
(Closed on Sunday, July 10.)

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival presents this collaborative exhibition by the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) and the Beirut Printmaking Studio, hosted by the Exhibition Research Lab.

Impressions from an Archive brings printmakers from the recently created analogue printmaking studio into dialogue with the photographic collection of the 25-year-old Arab Image Foundation. How might each printmaker “translate” their chosen photograph through their individual printmaking practice?

The Arab Image Foundation’s work is an ever-evolving research process into ways of looking at, interpreting, and interacting with the photographic objects in its custody.  A photographic negative or print, once created, remains in constant physical mutation. Likewise, its historical, cultural, and affective lives will depend on the viewer and will continue to shift. Through its work, the AIF studies the material and immaterial layers of photographs and seeks to further enrich this layering.

For this exhibition, printmakers from the Beirut Printmaking Studio chose images from diverse AIF collections, spanning from the 1870s to the 1970s, and from different parts of the Arab region and its diaspora, from which to produce their own intaglio prints. Positive prints of the original photographic negatives have been produced, each of which is displayed alongside the corresponding intaglio print as a diptych.

This exhibition reminds us how archives can support the objects they contain in their continuous evolutions, across social, artistic, cultural, and geopolitical currents. In this way, archiving becomes an act of collective and plural translation, in which different realities and perspectives can co-exist, breathing new life into photographic objects.

The Arab Image Foundation is an independent association forging new pathways for photography and image practices. Its collection of over 500,000 photographic objects and documents from and related to the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora has been gradually assembled over the last 25 years by artists and researchers and through donations. With a critical and innovative approach, it collects, rethinks, preserves, activates and understands these photographs through their multiple strata, and enriches the collection in the process.

Beirut Printmaking Studio is an inclusive and open space for people from all walks of life interested in discovering, learning and practicing art. It is the only open printmaking studio in Lebanon that covers all forms of analogue printmaking, including intaglio, lithography, relief, alternative processes and darkroom photography. The studio aims at promoting and establishing analogue techniques in Lebanon, especially printmaking techniques.

Impressions from an Archive is part of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2022 programme, hosted at the ERL as part of a new relationship between the organisations.

Founded in 1998, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is the UK’s longest-running annual Arab arts and culture festival, platforming the best UK and international Arab artists on a yearly basis. The festival creates a dynamic between traditional and contemporary Arab artforms, encouraging informed debate that explores, and increases, appreciation of Arab people and their rich cultures.

More information about the festival, and the work it undertakes throughout the year can be found here.