About the collection
Since the Arab Image Foundation's founding in 1997, its collection has gradually expanded to include over 500,000 photographic objects from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora that date from the mid-19th century to the present day.
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The collection has been shaped both by the AIF's mission-to activate and situate photographs-and by the specific research interests and critical, creative work of members and researchers. The artists, writers, filmmakers and scholars affiliated with the AIF have, to date, initiated research missions and projects in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal.
The collection is therefore a dynamic and at times idiosyncratic one; not merely illustrating the history of photography in the region, it also facilitates the positioning of a wealth of different photographic practices within their social, economic, political and cultural contexts.
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Authored by professionals, amateurs and anonymous photographers alike, objects in the AIF collection reflect a range of genres and styles - including documentary, reportage, industrial photography, fashion photography, architecture, advertising, family albums, fine art, landscapes, studio portraits, still life and nudes. Whilst the collection is mainly comprised of photographs, the scope of certain research missions extends beyond photography to include film, video, text, objects and ephemera from the same collection or studio.
In seeking the engagement of artists and scholars, encouraging public curiosity and working in partnership with like-minded institutions, the Foundation hopes to generate critical thinking about photographic, artistic and archival practices, promoting its collection as a rich resource for research, reflection and the creation of new works, forms and ideas.