Lebanese artist Lara Tabet trained at the International Center of Photography in New York and follows in the footsteps of photographers focusing on body, sexuality, and marginality. Her series entitled Roseaux, created in Beirut in 2012 with Michelle Daher as her guide, echoes the series Kohei Yoshiyuki made in Tokyo in 1973 entitled The Park. In both cases the aim was to show what should normally remain hidden: furtive nocturnal encounters in the heart of a city. Both series implicitly ask the same questions, one about Japanese society, the other about Lebanese society: what prompts these couples to make love outdoors? Exhibitionism? Sharing a tiny apartment? Not being able to have guests in their parents’ house? Is it a choice or an expedient?
But whereas Kohei Yoshiyuki placed himself—and the viewer—in the position of a voyeur, Lara Tabet takes a different approach. Roseaux is not merely about voyeurism; it is about moving from the state of the spectator keeping her distance to that of a person who plays an active part in these random nocturnal encounters. This means that voyeurism tips over into exhibitionism. The status of the images is modified, because they no longer constitute a mere documentary record. An ambiguity has been established. What do we see exactly? Where is the line that separates naked reality from staged scenes? By becoming an actor in her own images, Lara Tabet opens up their meaning to fiction.
Guillaume de Sardes
Guillaume de Sardes is a photographer, writer, art historian and curator of the 2017 Photomed festival in Beirut.
Lara Tabet, Reeds
January 18 – February 8, 2017
Rue Mgr Toubia Aoun
Marfaa D5. imm 1301. 5th floor