The Distance is Always the Other
The Distance is Always the Other
Book, Box Set
8.5 × 8.5 × 2.5 in
Dongola Limited Editions
CollectionCollection Development, Limited Edition Artists Books
4 in stock
University of Central Florida (UCF)
Editioned book, digitally printed
8.5 in W x 8.5 in H x 2.5 in D
Hand-Sewn Edition Size: 173
Published by Dongola Press
“In 1973, two American tourists, set out from the Phoenicia Hotel on the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, intent on reaching the famous ancient ruins of Baalbek, known colloquially as ‘the Sun City,’ in the northeast of the country. They photographed their journey using a stereo camera, a device that captures dual images simultaneously, then produces a single image which, when viewed through a stereoscope, appears luminous and three dimensional.
The resulting photographs were set aside, a typical treatment of such vernacular ‘vacation’ photographs, dismissed as traces of everyday life, until put up for sale online. In 2016, Chris Coekin uncovered this online ‘archive,’ and embarked on a project that imbued the photographs with new meaning and value. In collaboration with Noel Nasr, they set out on an investigative journey to explore the historical narratives and layers of the archived images. Playing with the mechanisms of the stereo camera’s dual lenses, Coekin and Nasr used vintage analogue cameras, each photographer capturing an image of a space from the same vantage point, one taking the place of the left lens, and the other acting as the right lens. The two resulting photographs were then combined to create a single image.
Through their process of experimentation, the photographer duo exposes the instability within the Lebanese landscape. They provide crucial evidence of the social, demographic and architectural changes caused by the lengthy civil war and subsequent reconstruction.
The Distance is Always Other focuses on mapping the information known to the contemporary photographers: the destinations the couple visited and photographed. Mapping involves tracing both spatial and temporal distances. On one hand, The Distance is Always Other is a commentary on spatial changes within the Lebanese landscape over time, revealing underlying shifts in the country’s social fabric. The original images capture moments of a country on the brink of civil war, while the contemporary photographs document the same spaces of that country after forty years of destruction and reconstruction. Coekin and Nasr rethink the original photographs’ serene landscapes by exaggerating the lapse between their two shots: they create unstable images, mimicking the trajectory of Lebanon’s history. These transformations are further amplified when viewing the juxtaposed original and contemporary photographs.” – Abed AlKadiri.
This visual experiment developed into an artist book with a text by Lebanese writer Fadi Tofeili, published by Dongola Limited Editions and designed by renowned Iranian artist Reza Abedini. The publication carries the same title as the original project and will be launched in conjunction with the exhibition.
The book is accompanied with a custom-made mini-viewer and custom reel, re-imagining Bob and Ann’s archive through physical recreation. The reel is composed of seven images, which in turn recount the journey that the tourists had back in 1973. The box, which contains the book, is in the shape of a camera bag, alluding to the photographic journey and producing an interactive experience where one wears, holds, scrutinizes, reads, and narrates their own version of the story.
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