Jimmy Dabbagh is, in his own words, a third generation kid: someone from many places. A true modern. His photographs of Lebanon appear in LYRA’s first issue, here he talks to us about identity and his upcoming project, Transparent which he describes as a ‘collaborative project with members from the Lebanese LGBTQ community’.
L: What’s your background?
J: I’m a third culture kid. I was born in the United States in Michigan, and spent my formative years moving from Riyadh Saudie Arabia, to the suburbs near Philadelphia and finally Beirut.
L: How would you describe your work?
J: As a photographer, my interest lies between documentary and fine art photography, I’m interested in exploring the space where the boundaries blur between the two.
L: Tell us about transparent.
J: My latest body of work, Transparent, is a collaborative project with members from the Lebanese LGBTQ community, which aims to empower them while offering an intimate perspective into the inner workings of their daily lives, through a series of photographs, interviews and short videos.
L: The context, Lebanon, Beirut specifically, is obviously important: why did you choose it?
J: Beirut is an intricate and at times volatile melting pot of different religions, sects, neighborhoods and communities, cultures and subcultures. Yet, certain communities remain under the radar and continue to face adversity and an overall misrepresentation in the public sphere.
I aim to shed light on the lives of members from Beirut’s LGBTQ community. These are individuals who in spite of societal pressures eschew the confines of convention in pursuit of an authentic existence that is considered to be subversive and unnatural by some.
L: And what do you highlight?
J: While the country maintains a seemingly progressive attitude towards homosexuality, in contrast to more conservative countries in the region, members from the community still face challenges that defy their ability to lead fulfilled lives, as they continue to struggle for acceptance and basic human rights.
L: Do you aim to change anything with the project?
J: Yes: to combat the shroud of stigma that persists and lay the foundation for a new shift in the conversation – one that more accurately represents LGBT people and provides a platform for them to voice their dreams, life stories, passions and any other unique insights that they wish to convey.
L: How will Transparent be structured?
J: The project will feature an eclectic selection of people from, members of the transgender community, drag queens, and other people from the community who are willing to offer their personal perspectives. My hope is to achieve a body of work that is candid and thought provoking, while touching on themes of gender, sexuality, relationships and family, particularly in a sub-cultural context.
All images are taken from Jimmy’s upcoming project Transparent, the depicted describes himself as a gay man who occasionally dabbles in cross dressing.
Jimmy’s photographs of Lebanon appear in LYRA’s first issue, buy or subscribe to the magazine and support our Kickstarter here.
Check out Jimmy’s website for more of his work.
– Jago Rackham