Leslie Hakim-Dowek / Twilight Island
Poem and statement:
A silent equation unbinds deep rings of fire,
Palpable in damp ravines
And oceans gathering around the island’s edge.
Out of the parabol of the skies,
Summer galloped in with its sad stillness
Full of slow time and blinding rays.
Twilight Island is a poetic contemplation of a time spent on a volcanic island. This book resonates with a subtext of several themes and thresholds. Sometimes these are polarised such as the vast wilderness we live in and the coming of age of two girls, my twin daughters; an earthly stage where generational rites and rituals have come into being but to which, we remain largely oblivious.
A succession of vistas from volcanic craters to desert plateaux is juxtaposed with landmarks of memory and recreational spaces where spectacles are set to unfold in a cycle of endless tourism.
In a culture terminally ill with amnesia in which temporal boundaries have weakened, an axis is drawn between the earthly transformations over millennia which are laid bare on this island and our compulsive stream of capture. A stream that seeks to provide a brief anchoring of an ever-transitory present within the inherent silence and stillness of a photograph.
Leslie Hakim-Dowek is a visual artist of Lebanese origin based in London. Although her practice is mainly centred around issues of identity, migration and memory relating to her homeland, war and wilderness remain over-arching themes in her work as stories of warfare and environmental abuse stem both from man’s struggle to control, tame and own the wilderness. Her practice often combines photography, archival material and text with creative writing being also an important element.
She is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Portsmouth and was the Visual Advisor for the AHRC Ottoman Pasts, Present Cities: Cosmopolitanism and Transcultural Memories Conference project at Birkbeck College for which she curated the exhibition East and West: Visualising the Ottoman City (online version of catalogue: www.issuu.com/vtoc). The exhibition focused on the legacies of and transitions from the Ottoman Empire and its multiple histories of Diaspora and erasure. She also helped to organise several international workshops with key organisations from the Middle-East and a masterclass with Marianne Hirsch and Susan Meiselas on “Transmedial / Transcultural Memories: Points of Convergence”.
Her book Twilight Island was nominated for the Mack First Book Award 2017. She has widely exhibited here and abroad including solo and group exhibitions at Photofusion, Manchester City Art Gallery, Impressions Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, Brighton Fringe, National Media Museum and Montreal Mois de la Photo. She has undertaken many commissions including one for The World in London, a public commission project organised by the Photographers Gallery and Gulbenkian Foundation for the London Olympics. Her work is included in many private and public international collections.