Focus East: Early Photography in the Near East (1839-1885)

Nissan N. Perez, Author ABRAMS $49.5 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8109-0924-3
In the half-century after the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, photographers, tourists, explorers and missionaries trekked to alien cultures from Egypt to Iraq, taking their conceptual baggage with them. This hypnotic assemblage of 275 photographs is a flowing panorama of ambivalent imageswomen of Bethlehem, Berbers, the serene, majestic Sphinx, Arab rice vendors and musicians, the Wailing Wall, Armenian monks in Jerusalem. Perez is a curator at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and organizer of an international exhibit, which this album catalogues. In an enlightening essay, he examines the typical Westerner's trip to the Near East (or Orient) as a bourgeois rite of passage to an idealized terrain. While travelers treated Biblical sites or Egyptian monuments with respect and reverence, they viewed the local people as curiosities. The photographs are full of period charm, many have historical value, none is without interest. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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