“I have been photographing everyday life in Lebanon since 2014, as part of a personal project. I purposefully wanted to document Beirut because it’s such a hybrid city. It’s super-reflective of my Gulf and Mediterranean upbringing,” says Cypriot photographer Prod Antzoulis, who grew up in Dubai. “Beirut was my first real introduction to a historic city in the Arab world”.
The photographer moved to Dubai in the early 90s, when he was young, during a time when the city was under construction. “It’s hard for me to define myself. Cyprus is such a hybrid country – it’s located in the Middle East, but it’s a European country that has a lot of Arab influence – in terms of values and morals. The things I relate to are influenced by Middle Eastern culture, and not Western culture. This is why Beirut had such a strong impact on me, because it kind of created that balance between both heritages. It feels like my safe space.”
Antzoulis’s work is centred on the idea and concept of nostalgia. “Nostalgia comes from a place of trying to understand where things come from. It all ties in with the fact that I grew up in a place that lacked the things I needed when growing up, such as nature for instance. Through my work, I would create my own world. Nostalgia is the result of this process”.
The thing that makes Antzoulis’s work stand out is his unique perspective – because despite not actually being Arab, he’s managed to build and cultivate a very intimate relationship with the Middle East and its people.
“It became exhausting for me to hear [in the West] the public’s wrongful portrayal of the Middle East. The message from this series is to remind people that have this misconception of not just Lebanon but the Middle East as a whole, that there is beauty in this region.”