List of releases
1. L’Orient Le-Jour Feature - By Gilles Khoury , July 03, 2020
2. Sharjah Art Foundation - Vantage Point Sharjah 8 (VPS8) exhibition
3. Bidayat Magazine مجلة بدايات - Issue 25, 2020 (Lebanese revolution)
... more info below ...
L’Orient Le-Jour Feature - By Gilles Khoury , July 03, 2020
Article link (English translation below):
English Translation of the article
Walid Nehmé, voyeur of the intimate.
Each of his images is a pinned pomegranate. Apparently placid like his favorite black and white, the photographer’s work, started only two years ago, succeeds in deciphering the intimate while playing on the relationship between photographer and subject.
When you land on the home page of Walid Nehmé’s website, a black and white image challenges you. In a vertical mirror, one thinks of guessing an androgynous body with dry and contracted muscles, made more strange by a light all in chiaroscuro and of which one discerns neither the face nor the identity, so that one wonders 'it is the reflection of a person or an ephemeral vision, of a specter of passage or even of a nude out of the Renaissance. Above the image in question, under the artist's name, one can read "Voyeur of the intimate." Put in parallel, this description and the photo alone summarize the approach of this artist whose work questions the intimacy of the body, while "putting a certain distance between me and my subjects ", he says, insisting on the fact that "when you know too much about something, you end up no longer being interested".
Speak little to observe more
When we go through, then, its multiple series, these silhouettes devoured by the sun of Cap-Ferret (south-west of France), these skins which intertwine in the Lebanese night, these bodies breaking up during the revolution of October, or, more recently, the ‘Nobody Owns the Beach’ project, a kind of intimate documentary about the disintegration of the Beirut coast, you might think that Walid Nehmé was bottle-fed. Mistake. "I grew up in a village in southern Lebanon, with a westernized education that de facto kept me away from my entourage. Isolated, I started taking pictures of everything I saw, but something was sorely lacking in my visual landscape: “sexuality,” he recalls. Landing in Beirut much like a UFO, he won a scholarship from the American University of Science and Technology (AUST) where he also worked as a photographer for the institution's events. There, in the middle of this city which he deciphers with all his senses, Nehmé confides that he has always preferred silence, choosing to "stay on the sidelines and speak little to better observe". A diploma in communication arts in his pocket, the young man with an iridescent gaze strayed to Dubai on the path of a career in advertising and music which, he confides, "very quickly disillusioned me". And to add: "I needed intensity. In Dubai, I felt like I no longer felt anything, and it weighed on me." If this lack will bring Walid Nehmé to his native country where he will make his art flourish thereafter, it is especially the decisive meeting with the photographer Myriam Boulos which will be a kind of revelation:" At the time, I had already developed my photo, but I was looking for myself too. Myriam has detected something in my work that I did not see, she often spoke to me about this distance between my eye and my subject. Her advice clicked me. Without the slightest plan, if not that of giving free rein to his goal, the photographer returns to Beirut in December 2019, at a time when the country is undergoing profound social transformations. "It was the perfect moment for me to be inspired," he smiles.
The body ball...
In his luggage, Walid Nehmé piled up two years of photographic photos, gleaned between Dubai, Berlin and France. To these, he adds his series (in progress) Nobody Owns the Beach. "I have always been obsessed with the sea. When I got back to Lebanon, I wondered for a long time where I could go for a swim. On this banal question, I wanted to document the Beirut side which, despite its frantic urbanization, and thanks to the resilience of certain swimmers, will remain a refuge. Despite everything, the sea will continue to be a unifying place," he describes. The ball of the bodies that weave the photos of Nehmé proves it. Eternally in black and white, these boys in whom the artist was interested, "no doubt to compensate for the time lost during my adolescence in the South", he thinks, seem indeed to seize this sea, by a simple jump of the angel or a ridiculous acrobatics on a rock. But beyond this particular project, whether it be his images taken at the end of the night, those of the strangers he met in the streets of Berlin, the portraits of a muse, Sonja, or those that constitute his series In ‘A Feast in the Arms of the Gods,’ a multitude of twisted nudes floating somewhere between day and night, between present and hints of memories, each of Walid Nehmé's photographs resonates like a grenade disguised. Utopian because it does not fit into any temporality - "It is undoubtedly the black and white effect from which I cannot detach myself," says the artist. Felines, carnal but never pornographic, playful and confusing, they are all the more subversive because they play on the relationship between him and his subjects. On the one hand, the photographer is imminent, present, seeming to graze these granulated skins which unfold and unfurl in its tight framing. On the other, and even when he puts himself on stage, as in this powerful photo of him, frontal, posing naked next to an older man, the artist succeeds in the feat of disappearing in favor of his subject. Is it for fear of revealing too much? Fear of spoiling the moment? Or is it a game of showing, in a dropper, a character he would have chosen? Walid Nehmé prefers to answer in this way: “By refusing to seize a moment that presents itself before our eyes, there is no risk of losing it. You don't lose what you refused to own ... "
Bidayat Magazine مجلة بدايات
Issue 25, 2020
Lebanese Revolution (October 2019)