Voyeurism in Multidimensions

Do you ever wonder how many photographs you're in, unknowingly? Just, you know - hovering in the background - otherwise referred to as 'photobombing'? 

There are probably, likely, certainly tons of photos of an oblivious you out there in the abysses of bottom drawers and the world wide web. 

Lara Nasser refers to this involuntary presence as 'lurking'. You're a lurker. But then again, every one's a lurker at one point or another. In her most recent series, "LURK," she uses innocent bystanders from photographs (possibly yourself) and portraits their vulnerability on canvas:


But that's not all. Lara's been up to a lot in the past few years. A fines arts graduate from AUB, she's currently pursuing her voyeurism through a masters degree at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She's been exploring performance art, a medium that is still struggling to be well-respected in the region. Besides that, she's tackled illustration, painting, photography, mixed media - in addition to various forms of mediums ranging from peas to lint. Though she's been experimental with her methods of expression, a congruence between the works is undeniably there.

In fact, I asked Lara about it. She paused the voyeurism and told me all about it - 

B: Has there been an ongoing theme in your works?

Lara Nasser: Certainly, and unintentionally. I've always been fascinated by the implicit space between the self and the other; strangers, friendships, hierarchies and interpersonal limits. I noticed voyeuristic tendencies in myself early on, and pursued them by observing behaviour, examining patterns through visual explorations. It's an impulse as well as a theme, I suppose.

B: How does the art scene in Brooklyn compare to the one in Beirut?

LN: It's not as different as one would think! Brooklyn is much larger however, and attached to a long-standing history of contemporary art in greater New York City. Size inevitably means diversity of work, and a larger number of galleries, but like anywhere in the world you find interesting work and duds. An interesting comparison is the relative novelty of both cities as creative hubs: Brooklyn is full of up-and-coming galleries gaining momentum in Bushwick and Dumbo, and Beirut (in spite of recurring political setbacks) is on its way as well. It's exciting to be part of both!
B: You had your first solo exhibition this January. How did it turn out?

LN: The show was great, I had been working on the series since 2012 and it was finally time to show them. The portraits came to life on the wall after two years in my makeshift studio. I have to send a special thanks to Kais al Kaissi and Amin al-Dada, the two brilliant gentlemen who run the Community gallery. It couldn't have happened without them. Now that I've shown my Lurkers, a decidedly "Beirut-based" series, I feel a lovely emptiness begging for new stuff.

Live festival painting
B: How would you describe your studies in fine arts at AUB?
LN: That's a difficult question, and a very important one. I have mixed feelings. AUB is a monumental part of my life, and I met some incredible peers and professors who shaped the artist and person I am today. I must stress the professors. Some grew into mentors and friends, encouraging me not to fear my own creativity in a country that often makes it hard to believe in yourself.

That said, the program has a long way to go in terms of rigor, organization, course specificity, art history, facilities, technical training, and the seriousness with which it is regarded by the student body. The stellar Fine Arts faculty are currently fighting for this; they're fighting for us. 

Lara's design, inked by Hady Beydoun
B: Between all the mediums that you've undertook, have you found one of them to be the best way you express yourself? 

LN: I've been exploring a lot recently, with access to my own studio and proper workshops. Right now I'm working in sculpture, installation, and performative mediums, and it feels right. I still love to paint, but the social containment anxieties that compel me are best spoken for in movement and occupations of space. I'm an antsy person--having options keeps me productive!
B: Critics argue that performance art has a long way to go in Lebanon. What would you say?

LN: I would agree. Lebanon is in a strange space between acceptance and conservatism, the latter often more dominant. A lack of general stability has made it tough to establish the importance of asking questions over finding answers. This process involves experimentation and breaches of "acceptable" behavior. It requires a shift in attitude on the audience's part... many are quick to laugh or judge during a performance. It's easier than taking it in, feeling uncomfortable, and contemplating why it's difficult to accept. 

However! We are lucky to have artists like Cornelia Krafft, a former professor and dear friend of mine, who is truly a torchbearer for performance art in Lebanon. She has led several unprecedented collective performances, pervasive in theme and meticulous in execution. With time I see an emergent generation of Lebanese artists, full of curiosity and energy, performing, writing, painting, and living the talents we were told to dismiss as hobbies.

Lara Nasser's official website


Saatchi online portfolio (purchase prints here)



All images are copyrighted material and all rights are reserved to the respective artists.


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