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April 4, 2024
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Myriam Boulos's Book On Lebanese Revolution

The 2020 Lebanon explosion was caused by the ignition of large amounts of seized ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse since 2014. It destroyed a significant part of the port of Beirut. With Myriam Boulos’s camera view, she found a way to stem the flow of anger and despair.
“Since the explosion, I feel like a glass of water that overflows constantly” 

"What's Ours" is Myriam Boulos' first photobook, which covers ten years in Lebanon, from 2013 to 2023. During this time, the country experienced several socio-political issues, including corruption, an economic crisis, and disputes over women's rights, leading to a divided population and government. The citizens protested against the government in 2019, which became known as the 17 October Revolution. 

Boulos' photographs and accompanying journal entries in the book depict the turbulent events in Lebanon. The demonstrations, riot police, fires, and fights are detailed, along with the country's exuberant and youthful subcultures and their ardent push for change. Before October 2019, Boulos felt that the country was in a dead end, and everything was silenced, oppressed, and normalized. However, the start of the revolution was a collective awakening. 

The title of Boulos' work, "What's Ours," is a statement rather than a question, and it alludes to the ongoing fight for fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and bodily autonomy. Member of Magnum Photos since 2021, she captures the struggle in a visually compelling manner. The photographs showcase soldiers, firefighters, and protesters but also Lebanese flora, and butterflies. 

"As a person who can spend months in my room, I have difficulties encountering the 'real world'. The people, sounds, lights, and smells can be overwhelming. Photography is the perfect medium for me. It's a way of organizing my thoughts and making sense of them."

In her compositions, sex and danger intersect. She believes that sexuality is still considered a taboo subject worldwide, and non-heteronormative sexuality is especially oppressed. Although Lebanon is relatively liberal for an Arab country, homosexuality is still illegal. Boulos' most striking images often feature members of the queer community, and the cover of her book "What's Ours" features two women kissing. 

The photographs taken by Boulos evoke a sense of touch through the use of textures such as shattered glass, cracked concrete, and bandages. The color palette employed by Boulos is often saturated and accentuated. Boulos says that it's essential for her to look for tenderness, a way of resisting and hanging on to desire and magic. Photography can be a powerful medium of communication, but it can also be risky. Due to the campaigns and attacks against LGBTQ+ communities that have taken place in 2023, the book is not being distributed in Lebanon to avoid putting anyone at risk. 

“I realized one of the things I do while representing Lebanon and the region is humanizing us through personal stories. I am naturally interested in documenting personal stories, but I am tired of trying to prove to the world that we, as Arabs, are human too.”

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