Skip to contentHrair Sarkissian



Series of 6 C-Prints, backlit paper, 180x230cm each.

Awarded The Abraaj Group Art Prize, Dubai, 2013.


Background documents studio backgrounds and settings in six cities in the Middle East: Amman, Alexandria, Beirut, Byblos, Cairo and Istanbul. The idea of this project arose from a single photograph of a plain grey backdrop Sarkissian took in his father’s studio in Damascus, and coincided with a broader disappearance of studio portraiture in the region – a victim of the advent of digital photography. 


Studio backdrops were integral to photographic studio practice in the region since its inception in the 19th century. Shot without human subjects, and with the surrounding photographic studio visible, the painted scenes and sometimes elaborate set-ups that provided sitters an escape to other worlds, bear witness to the history of photography in the region.