Becoming Van Leo is a study of the life and times of the late Armenian-Egyptian photographer. Born in 1921, Leon Boyadjian would come to be known as Van Leo, one of the most singular twentieth-century studio photographers in the Arab world.
Van Leo left behind him a 60-year body of portraiture and self-portraiture work, as well as professional and personal documents. Drawing on this abundant archive from the collections of the AIF—its most iconic one—and the American University in Cairo, in addition to accounts of people who knew him, the publication intricately narrates the story of the photographer and the man, contemplates the complex practice of commemoration, and reflects on the task of the archivist, the curator, the designer, and the author at large.
The eclectic nature of the publication’s content will engage diverse audiences not only interested in photographic practices, but also in design and visual arts at large; Egyptian cinema and popular culture; contemporary history of Cairo, Egypt, the Arab world, and the Levantine Armenian community; the Second World War in the Middle East… and the numerous—related or independent—narrow-focus subjects that backdrop the narrative.
Authored by Karl Bassil in collaboration with Negar Azimi and Katia Boyadjian
Preface by François Cheval
Designed by Mind the gap
Printed by 53dots, Beirut
Published in Beirut in 2021 by the Arab Image Foundation and Archive Books, in partnership with the Prince Claus Fund and Sharjah Art Foundation, and with the cooperation of the American University in Cairo
Cased 3-volume publication, English
24 x 30 cm
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