Ms Leslie Hakim-Dowek
I am a visual artist, researcher and lecturer based in London. My degree and postgraduate studies focused on Fine Art (Painting) but for many years now, my practice has been photography-based and is sometimes combined with creative writing, text and archival materials. I have continued to explore issues of identity, memory and migrancy relating to my place of birth, the Lebanon, with over-arching leitmotivs of war and the wilderness.
My work is included in many private and public collections and I have widely exhibited here and abroad. Solo and Group exhibitions include : 'iCrossing' for Brighton Fringe, 'The Dead' curtaed by Val Williams at National Media Museum and Montreal 'Mois de la Photo', Modern Art Oxford, Manchester City Art Gallery, Impressions Gallery and Photofusion.
I am currently working on a photobook project Twilight Island whichis a poetic contemplation of a time spent on a volcanic island. This book combines creative writing and photography. It resonates with a subtext of several themes which can be polarised such as the vast wilderness we live in and the coming of age of two girls, my twin daughters; an earthly stage where generational rites and rituals have come into being but to which, we remain largely oblivious.
Another important theme is how, in a culture in which temporal boundaries have weakened, an axis is drawn between the earthly transformations over millennia which are laid bare on this island and our compulsive stream of capture. This book is an attempt to provide a brief anchoring of an ever-transitory present within the inherent silence and stillness of a photograph.
Linked to my ongoing interest on how history, personal identity and memory can be articulated to reclaim representations and speak of multiple diasporas, I contributed to the A.H.R.C (Arts and Humanities Research Culture) Network scheme titled ‘Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories’ along with Dr. Jay Prosser, Dr Gabriel Koureas and Colette Wilson. As the Visual advisor, I curated the main impact event namely the exhibition ‘East and West: Visualising the Ottoman City’ and helped to organize the International conference in June 2014 at Birkbeck College plus several interdisciplinary workshops and gallery events. As also relevant to my practice, other themes explored were how artists formed ‘archives’ to help deviate from the dominant narrative of the media and point to the multiplicity of narratives that made up these complex Ottoman cities as well as the nature of disputed memories and representations of particular attachments to land and place in spite of histories of trauma and exile.
Our research on ex-Ottoman cities contributed also to the AHRC Translating Cultures theme by travelling from the present back to the past cosmopolitan city-worlds of the Empire; by a focus on transcultural memories. A network was a necessary mode for bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on Ottoman studies, currently an intellectually fragmented field of enquiry dominated by ‘Orientalist’ representations.
I helped organise a masterclass led by Marianne Hirsch (Professor, Columbia University) and Susan Meiselas (Magnum photographer) which focused on the ways in which transcultural memories become crucially translated across various media, including trans-modal forms, e.g. in combination with websites and books, films and exhibitions.
For further information:
Forthcoming : 2019: Ottoman Special Issue for Memory Studies Journal