MAPg and Mark Abouzeid want to offer a special gift to thank you for your support and collaboration during 2014: a wall calendar from the “Last Train from Rayak” collection to keep on your computer or print for your fridge . . . click here to download your copy.
The Collection: “Last Train from Rayak”
Ever since he can remember, Mark has wanted to go home. Not his parents house, in whatever country they happen to be living in at that time. But instead, his ancestral home, the land of his dreams: burnt earth under olive trees and rocky hillsides shadowed by secular cedars, their roots reaching deep into the core of the earth….his earth…roots.
But now, here he is in Rayak, Lebanon; ancestral home of his great-grandfather and once the main railroad hub linking the Ottoman Empire. It was a shining example of innovation to light the future, connecting East to West. 21 years of Syrian occupation and the future is the past.
“In 1976 the railway was shut due to the civil war, ending more than eighty-five years of success and achievements. Thirty-three years have passed and this institution which is more than one hundred and fifteen years old has been silenced, and left to perish through time.” Rayak Train Museum Proposal
Coming Soon: “Growing Cedars in Air” feature documentary film
Mark’s personal discovery of the Lebanese culture…of his heritage…will soon be the subject of a documentary feature film, “Growing cedars in Air”.
Ask anyone you meet, what they know about Lebanon and you will invariably receive one or both of the following replies:
“Oh, yeah, Beirut! It was once the Riviera of the Middle East. Great place to party!” Or “A damn shame what war has done to that country, poor people.”
Visiting Beirut is unlikely to provide you much more insight, either. Every office, home and hotel adorns the walls with photos of Beirut and landscapes of Lebanon dating to the 1950s and 60s.
Ask a Lebanese about their culture and they will, more often than not, reply, “There is no Lebanese Culture per se…we are a combination of many cultures, religions and histories.”
If Lebanon has seen nothing but war and parties for the last 40 years with no culture of its own, then how could it have provided so much to world culture in the sciences, arts, design, fashion, music, world politics, business and entertainment?
“Growing Cedars in Air” is a indie documentary video project about personal discovery of what it means to be Lebanese…about the living heritage and unique culture that has allowed Lebanese to flourish wherever they settle.
Cedars is one man’s discovery of his own roots told in the captivating, yet intimate, style of fireside storytellers. It is a personal story told by numerous protagonists, yet, with a universal theme…and may well be one of the few profound explorations of a culture on the brink of extinction.
Artist’s Statement: Mark Abouzeid
I am a sensual person more than I visual one. My eyesight is one of my weakest senses. When I prepare to create a photo, the first thing I do is close my eyes allowing my other senses to take over. I focus all my efforts and intent on triggering the same sensations in the viewer via visual clues.
I capture that which connects us all as fellow human beings and how we express this differently through our own unique cultures. My collections are intended to inspire but also provoke.
I am a a purist. I prefer costumes, props and locations to photoshop, and only traditional darkroom adjustments in post-production. The more complex the desired impact, the greater the challenge. I may stage incredible scenes but when I get behind the camera, I am capturing a reality of my own creation already seen in my mind’s eye.
If you see a beautiful photo, I have failed; if you can smell the coffee and your mouth waters, then I have barely succeeded; but if you feel an emotion overcoming you, then the effort was worth it.