Hailing from the coastal city of Tyre, this Lebanese photographer is breathing life into captured stills of the country. Like many artists before him, thiry-year-old artist and photojournalist Marwan Tahtah has been facinated by Lebanon's seashore.
After spending most of his life in Beirut, Tahtah went to France to receive a Master Diploma in Photography from the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles.
Fittingly, the title of his latest exhibition is “The Sea Leaves Us When We’re Gone.”
While some photographs were taken in the only remaining public beach of Beirut, Ramlet el Bayda, others were captured in Tyre in the south.
Speaking to Annahar newspaper, Tahtah says, “I feel that I’m part of this community. There’s no wall between the people of Ramlet el Bayda and me."
Tahtah has been a sea-goer for as long as he can remember. Not only is he enchanted by Ramlet el Bayda because of the playful childhood he spent there, but he also feels a deep and melancholic bond with what he describes as a “sad public space.”
Here is a photo of Tahtah as a child on Beirut's corniche.
Enriched by his background in photojournalism, and his work in local newspapers since 2000, his renowned black-and-white style of photography reflects melancholic undertones most of the time.
From captivating objects in motion to recurring architectural shapes, nothing escapes the lends of Tahtah.
Here is a man swimming in a pool with a vivid architectural floor at Long Beach, one of the most renowned private beaches of Beirut
Passionate about giving everyone access to art, Tahtah speaks of the importance of widening its reach to people in different places in Lebanon.
“Why should anyone feel like a stranger in an art gallery? Art should be able to include people in its gentle premises,” he says as he explains his desire to create “the culture of the photograph,” something not yet widely appreciated in Lebanon.
The art of framing lies in highlighting a piece of art so that it stands out from the background. The photographs of Tahtah eliminate the white noise by centering a target and leaving 'blank' the spaces around it.
Not fond of labeling his pieces, Tahtah leaves it to “people to view each photograph from their own perspective.”
His experiences in Europe have inspired him to think of a photography festival in Lebanon that would fill the streets. He speaks of heritage buildings that he had lived in, or empty spaces that he dreams of turning into photography festivals... “only if that was financially feasible.”
Tahtah has had many exhibits these past years. In 2018, he exhibited “Aleppo in Black and Snow” and “Beirut Series Cities" at the Berlin Potsdam Gallery.
In September of the same year, he also displayed “Visa pour L’Image” at Perpignan and “Black and White City” in Beirut. In 2017, he prepared “Stories of Humanity” for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In 2013, he took part in Jabal Photo Exhibition “Saisir Le Mouvement,” (To catch the movement) organized by the French Institute in Zahle, Lebanon, which was then part of the 4ème Image International Photo Exhibition in Paris.
One of his exhibitions, named “Behind the Veil”, speaks of the challenges a Lebanese veiled woman faced in removing her hijab and standing up to the social norms that she was born into.
Topless beach boys, a veiled woman embracing the sea, and a whole series of other uniquely captured moments by Tahtah will be featured in the free art space of Ziad Tawbe: “Tree of Art”. The exhibition will be open until the end of March.