“Becoming Van Leo: A Work in Progress,” 2011. Exhibition view at Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam. Courtesy Arab Image Foundation
The Arab Image Foundation (AIF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of photography and other related visual material from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab Diaspora.
Established in Beirut in 1997, the foundation holds a collection of more than 600,000 photographs dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Since its inception, the AIF has produced fifteen exhibitions and eight publications in partnership with international museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. The collection has also provided an invaluable resource for artists’ projects, curatorial initiatives, and academic research.
The AIF makes its collection publicly accessible through a range of activities and projects. Images from the collection can be viewed online through the AIF website. In addition, the foundation organizes and participates in local and regional events related to the study of photography and its preservation. The foundation’s premises in Beirut include an extensive reference library with an attached study area accessible to artists and scholars through residency programs and open to visits from the general public.
In seeking the engagement of artists and scholars, encouraging public curiosity, and working in partnership with like-minded institutions, the foundation hopes to generate critical thinking about photographic, artistic, and archival practices, using the collection as a basis for research, reflection, and the creation of new works, forms, and ideas.