São Paulo – In two trips to Lebanon in 2013 and 2015, Brazilian film producer Vitor Graize was welcomed by relatives in the region of Mount Lebanon, in Btater, the hometown village of his great-grandfather who had emigrated to Brazil in the early twentieth century. There he photographed the daily life of his family and the local Druze community. And so came into existence the photobook Vir de tão longe [To come from so far away], which is on pre-sale online and will be launched Tuesday (25) in Vitória, Espírito Santo.
Graize chronicled his trip in a series of photographs and a diary that now can be seen in a book where he captured the daily life of a Lebanese mountain community, beyond the political crises, economic problems, and social impacts ushered in by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
A grandson of a Lebanese immigrant, Graize recounts his experience through 59 pictures, a non-fiction bilingual text in Portuguese and Arabic and family archives like documents and old portraits.
The material allows you to learn a little bit more about a still-unexplored Lebanon, the Lebanese migration to Brazil, and the connections established between these two cultures. Brazil has now what’s known as the largest community of Lebanese and descendants outside Lebanon.
The pictures that are part of the book were taken in black and white 35mm and 120mm photographic film and show moments of intimacy in the Druze community, a religious ethnic group that lives in the Mount Lebanon region.
“When photographing, I tried to capture moments of the daily life, family and work, and I was mainly concerned in not incurring in a stereotypical representation of the Arab world. For instance, the pictures feature few references to the still present ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war,” the author was quoted as saying in a press release, mentioning the conflict that took place from 1975 to 1990 and left numerous consequences across the country.
The book features a non-fiction text written by Graize during his first travel in 2013 and translated into Arabic by fellow photographer and translator Yara Osman. The writing came naturally as a way to document the trip and convey his impressions to his family in Brazil, as many of his relatives had never visited the country.
The texts were published almost daily in a blog created by the author, a form that made referrence to the letters his great-grandfather Amin wrote to keep in touch with his family during the more than 70 years he lived in Brazil without going back to Lebanon.
“I wrote in a travel log style, trying to recount the daily life in the mountains, moved by individual encounters and small findings on the local lifestyle and culture. I wrote to recount episodes of the trip to my family in Brazil and remind myself of how that encounter with my ancestral history resonated in me,” said Graize. The idea to gather these materials in a book came later.
The art project is by Borda editorial collective and feature the adaptation of the format to the pictures and texts and the respect for both ways of reading – the one we use in Portuguese, from left to right, and the one in Arabic, from right to left.
The photobook will be launched on Tuesday, April 25, in Vitória, Brazil, at the Mosaico Fotogaleria. The launch will be accompanied by a photographic exhibition with approximately 10 enlarged pictures, as well as objects and documents like drafts and test prints that show a little of the project’s development process. The exhibition will run until May 13.
The publication is supported by the Secretariat of Culture of Espírito Santo via the incentive program Projetos Setoriais de Artes Visuais and was funded by Funcultura.