Paris Tear Sheets is the blog of ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lara Atallah, who will be undertaking her residency in Paris during July and August 2015. “Paris tear sheets” refers to daily snapshots taken during the artist’s peregrinations in the city. She will use the blog to chronicle her encounters in Paris as well as her observations of the city.
You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency here.
Immigrants tend to carry with them the one concrete thing that connects them back to their homeland: food. When I started “Tales of a Non-Country,” food played a key role in some of the earlier works. I produced still lifes, paired with reconstructed archival images that spoke to the nature of the historical recollection. With this new chapter in the tales, I want to reduce the level of mediation that the studio environment provided and give voice to the people behind the food.
Paris is replete with Lebanese restaurants in just about every corner of every arrondissement, but I’ve chosen to visit the doyen who has been thriving at the art of balancing chickpeas and olive oil since 1952.
A red tablecloth; a water carafe; a spread of mezze with ambrosial tangs mix with the delectable aromas that permeate the air of this family owned restaurant. Warmth is one of the keywords of this establishment: it is draped in rich colors and dotted with vivacious characters.
The father, Kamal, will spend hours talking about farming in his native village and what makes a good muhallabiyya; while Matthieu, his son, brainstorms PR strategies.
Here and there, one spots an icon of the Virgin Mary or a postcard of the Pope. As friends of the church and devout Christians, the Nassifs are often visited by congregation members of Syrian, Lebanese, or Palestinian descent who all come together to pray on Sundays and have made the restaurant a frequented outpost. I am introduced to members of the congregation who take pleasure in giving me a tour of the Lebanese Church nearby, and suggest I attend the Sunday service and meet their fellow congregants.
As the days go by and my encounters begin to weave themselves into a larger tapestry of faces and lives, I am slowly discovering the stories of satellite communities that form the greater whole of a disparate identity.
Lara Atallah (born Beirut, Lebanon, based in Brooklyn, NY) is a visual artist working with photography. You can find the full list of blog posts from her Paris residency here. Additional images from Lara's residency are on Instagram, #paristearsheets.
(All images: Lara Atallah)
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