Poetics of Home + City – The Photos of Lebanese Artist Mohamad Badr


The observation of people, nations, cultures, and places is more than documentation or the objective eye of the interloper, rather it takes a certain amount of patience. For those who know the photographer is present, the artist must allow a trust to begin, an openess, a sense of naturalness.

As for the pictures of that unaware subject who goes about his or her business without a conciousness of the photographer, the artist must learn to know when to take a picture. He must learn the moods of the city, the habits of the city, the moments of resilence, of pride, of boredom, of sorrow and of joy. A poetic rendering of humanity. Such is the work of Mohamad Badr. His portraits of family, of the very young and the very old, of city dwellers, make your heart ache, and your mind wonder…


Once Upon A Smoke Mohamad Badr

Once Upon A Smoke


Shangai Streets Mohamad Bahr

Shanghai Streets



Mohamad Badr Lagos1



Deep Street Memories Istanbul Mohamad Badr

Deep Istanbul

Mohamad Badr is a Lebanese artist living and working the United Arab Emirates. The artist’s oeuvre includes experimental projects and narratival photography. He often turns the lens on private moments, capturing an intimacy that reflects the inner lives of his subjects. This realm is the deeply private, quiet moment of prayer, or contemplation.



Dubai Fish Market by Mohamad Badr

Dubai Fish Market


Other work focuses on public spectacle, the pageantry of ritual and pain including the haunting series documenting the Shivaratri holy rituals or public cremation in Tibet.


Mohamad Badr Public Cremation Photo Series1

Public Cremation


Mohamad Badr Cape Town Langa.j1



women Deep Street Memories Istanbul Mohamad Badr



Mohamad Badr Lagos2


As well, the everyday staccato rhythm of urban living is captured in work that focuses on the way city dwellers seem to traverse many worlds.

An inveterate city dweller, Mohamad moved from his native Beirut to Dubai, a kind of rupturing that transformed his way of looking and understanding.

 I wanted to run away from Beirut, and when I  won the Pan-Arab Photography Competition, Ayyam Gallery I moved to Dubai. The move radically changed me. I had a sick addictive relationship with Beirut. I never thought I would leave. It is like this crazy love story where the partners are miserable and still they could not break-up, they feed each other with passion, inspiration, and pain.



mohamad badr fish market 1.jpg

Fish Market, Dubai


When I moved to Dubai, it was a cultural shock, the first couple of months I suffered, and my soul was aching. I wanted to hear the city’s sounds, see it’s people faces, walk in its streets at midnight, go to the sea at dawn, I needed Beirut’s wildness, anger, craziness (or at least this is what I thought). However, like after any break-up, we see that time heals, and Beirut, “the city of lust & lost dreams, started to fade and disappear from my dreams and from my thoughts. I was a new person who met another “city,” a calmer one, a rational one, a colder yet intriguing city. My work became a bit more mature and a bit more balanced, I became more curious to explore this beautiful city and try to find myself in it.


Mohamad was featured in the book series Uncommon. This thematic collection of books explores cities through the eyes of local artists. The artist’s volume Uncommon Dubai was based on a short story about a hidden part of the city: “the old areas that people do not know about or rarely visit.”


Uncommon Dubai


Mohammad Badr Uncommon Dubai2

Uncommon Dubai


Mohamad Badr_Anatomy of a Soul Portriat of my Soul Father Face 2015

Anatomy of a Soul


Anatomy of a Soul is a very intimate series, and a study of a man –an achievement of unobserved closeness and intensity. The subject is the artist’s uncle, and as the artist notes while the man is not particularly expressive his stories seem to be written across his face and hands.


Mohamad Badr_Anatomy of a Soul Portriat of my Soul Father 2015 hand

Anatomy of a Soul


Similarly,  Prayers of Light is a series of photographs of Mohamad’s aunt. The depth of these photos allows a sorrowful mood, perhaps because they show an ordinary but profound moment. In these pictures, the woman prays the al-Maghreb prayer in the family mountain house, the light falling from her face across the room, as if reflecting her dialogue with God….


 Mohamad Badr Prayer of Light6

Prayers of Light


Mohamad Badr Prayer of Light5

Prayers of Light



Mohamad Badr Prayer of Light2

Prayers of Light


Mohamad Badr Prayer of Light1

Prayers of Light

I lived my whole life watching her pray but she never forced me to do it. I had my own thoughts and ideas on religion and life but it was always thrilling watching her pray 5 times a day! I am not sure if she felt my presence, she was in another dimension and I was trying to capture a glimpse of this realm. “Prayers of light” is definitely my favorite body of work.



RB: You are from Lebanon, what about your own cultural heritage informs your process, approach, and way of thinking.  

MB: Lebanon is to a certain extent a free country, we are raised to create, and experiment and which facilitated artistic identity. Beirut played a major role in shaping my vision and eyesight. This place aught me the pleasure of observation. I used to spend hours watching people on the Cornish, in Hamra Street and in Achrafieh on public transportation or coffee shops. Passively watching their lives flow into the streets surrounded by sound moved me to write poetry and take photos that transcended street reportage.

What kind of camera do you use, and can you reveal more of your process?

I usually use the 5DMKIII and lately, I have been shooting with the Fuji XE2. I try to do everything in-camera and I color-correct in the light room. All my double exposure / multiple exposure work is done in-camera. I usually visualize and sketch some ideas or just spend time contemplating the subject or surroundings as white canvas.

RB: Does social justice, problems of power, inequality or poverty inform your work?How do pictures of every day life communicate both the postive and negatives of the experience of poverty? 

MB: I always try to document strangers in a storytelling format, a series of photos that captures the feel of their life and their inner beauty. My series of the Langa townships in Cape Town shows pain but I also wished to express a sense of passion and serenity.



Mohamad Badr Cape Town Langa.interior




Mohamad Badr Cape Town Langa.wolf


Mohamad Badr Cape Town Langa



Please tell me about the installation of your photos of the Ashura?

MB: My controversial series of Ashura (The power of…) created a controversy because it shows Shivaratri holy rituals in a totally different perspective — this self-flagellation is shown not religious not social justice but the idea of power and pain – how this is a common practice among different ethnicities and cultures and how it is linked to the expression of power.


Mohamad Bahr Bloody Streets The Manifestation of POwer Nabatiyeh Lebanon 2011-12 via Ayyam Gallery

Ashura, The Power of 




Learn more via the artist’s website | www.Instagram.com/mhdbadr

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