ABOUT FADI BOUKARAM
Fadi Boukaram was born and raised in Beirut and never wanted to be a photographer. Growing up during the Civil War, photos for him often were -and still are- the only remnant of the many people who don't exist anymore. These people unwittingly became mythical, for each photo of them hid fantastical stories that only the adults lived and told; it was magic. But magic wears off with age, and a strictly scientific education, graduate degrees in Engineering and Business, and a corporate career wiped out most of what was left of that magic. It wasn't until he hit his thirties that he realized how much he needed photography, both as a therapy tool and as a way to discover oddities within the mundane. As such, he finally dared to take a break from his day job to photograph the Lebanons of the United States, a project brewing in the back his mind for close to a decade.
ABOUT "LEBANONS" IN THE USA
In March 1955, seven mayors from towns called "Lebanon" in the United States arrived in Beirut for a fifteen-day cultural visit, invited by late president Camille Chamoun. They were from the Lebanons of the states of Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee. In addition, both representatives from New Hampshire and Tennessee, Dr. George Fawaz and Dr. Frank Baddour respectively, were of Lebanese descent. Before their departure, First Lady Zalfa Chamoun gifted each mayor a medallion and a cedar sapling that they took back to their hometowns to plant, where many of these cedars still stand today. While researching this historic visit, it turns out there are well over 40 towns called Lebanon in the United States. As such, the outline for my trip took shape. I embarked on a road trip that started from San Francisco in late September 2016. I will be driving all the around the country in a used caravan, visiting all these Lebanons in order to photograph, meet their peoples -hopefully some of whom are of Lebanese descent-, and to inquire about the origin of the name and the history of each town. Closer attention will be paid to the seven Lebanons whose mayors came to Beirut, hoping to interview their families and to see if photos and other memorabilia were kept from their 1955 visit. After returning to San Francisco, I’ll prepare for the trip back home. I should be back in Beirut mid-March 2017.