The rise of a Lebanese cinematic tradition became a unifying tool during these years. Famed filmmakers and photographers like Fouad El-Khoury as well as Joceyln Saab and Maroun Bagdadi turned their lenses toward Middle Eastern icons. These pioneers uplifted region-specific actors, scenes and traditions that were unique or important to the Lebanese cultural landscape at this time. In the present print, Fouad El-Khoury captures the illustrious Egyptian actress and singer, Sherihan. Pictured here in black and white, seated with her lips slightly parted and eyes transfixed, Sherihan is spellbound as she gazes toward the foreground. A woman who is usually the object of the eye, is now part of the audience. El-Khoury manipulates the gaze of the viewer, who paradoxically becomes the star of the screen. Oddly, the actress is in an empty theatre. The theatre, a place ordinarily associated with collective gathering, is shown here as an isolating experience; undoubtedly serving as an allegory of the Lebanese War. Sherihan looks on in amazement, watching and waiting as the viewer does. El-Khoury’s Sherihan eludes understanding, and leaves the viewer wondering whether we are complicit in this considered act of looking, or whether we are simply blind to the action on stage or screen.
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