All images courtesy Steidl.
Fouad Elkoury doesn’t have a home; he lives everywhere. Paris, Beirut, London, Egypt, Iceland – ah, the life of a migrant photographer. And while we’d be thrilled to visit half of the places Elkoury calls home, a new retrospective of the photographer’s global, 40-year career, Be…Longing, reveals just how difficult that would be.
Published by Steidl, Be…Longing’s 157 pages are mostly black and white. They depict solidarity and strife, contradicting the images our wanderlust-filled minds might conjure about global residency. Elkoury’s world is devoid of sandy beaches, ivy-covered chateaus, and charming characters, and is instead filled with lost vagabonds, destroyed relics, desolate landscapes, and traffic jams.
Elkoury photographed the 1982 Lebanon War, the destruction of his birthplace, and those images seem to haunt the entirety of his work. He weaves in the rest of his subjects with a theme of displacement. They don’t belong—either in time or in place—but they want to, and these societal castaways exude some deep pain we either struggle to relate to, or identify with completely.
For must of us, finding a place where we feel like we belong is a tedious, enduring process. Fouad Elkoury’s subjects in Be…Longing haven’t found that place; they’re still searching. But, for the most part, aren’t we all?
Written by Brandon Jones