Toufic Beyhum is a Lebanese photographer whose work focuses on the evolution and celebration of culture
How has your lived experience shaped your practice?
I was born in Beirut and lived during a war that tore Lebanon apart. My family and I escaped at the age of eight to the UK. It was sad because even though I was young I loved Beirut and so did my family.
I grew up in London until I graduated which at the beginning was a huge culture shock but it didn’t take me long to get into the culture. Having to adapt to different cultures shaped one of my strengths in my practice, which is to adapt to cultures very quickly. Regardless of where I have found myself for work, in New York, London, Dubai, Berlin and now between London and Windhoek, Namibia, I am able to connect to the different contexts that I find myself in and I find that people from different walks of life respond well to me too – which has come in very handy in my photography.
My life experience of having to move between diverse spaces has also shaped my photography practice by making me aware of and sensitive to the way I approach my subjects from a cultural point of view.
What are some of your biggest influences and motivations in your work? What issues are you passionate about working on?
My upbringing and the support from my family, especially my late mother who supported me to go down the creative path at a very early age would have definitely contributed to my artistic influence.
I come from an art loving family so we visited art galleries a lot as children, my mother was friends with a lot of artists & poets & our flats always had artwork on the walls. I believe all these things helped shape me.
I am very passionate about being vocal on preserving Indigenous cultures and knowledge. I enjoy sharing my thinking on this by juxtaposing traditional views and values with what is considered mainstream culture.
Can you tell us more about your focus on traditional and evolving cultures in your work?
All cultures are evolving, no culture is stagnant. Traditional and so-called modern cultures inform each other all the time. I like to explore how when differences meet, sometimes they clash and do not agree, sometimes they melt together, sometimes they sit side by side even when in stark contrast to each other. Finding and discussing the meeting point of differences are important and enjoyable for me to explore.
Where are you based and what excites you about the creative community around you?
I am based between London and Namibia – but mostly in Namibia. I am inspired by the way in which local artists are able to upcycle here. They seem to be able to create so many different things with items that are normally thrown away. The creative community in Namibia is very much rooted in nature, and this has taught me a great deal too. There is so much to be inspired by here and for me it’s mostly from nature and Indigenous tribes, their craft and culture.
See more of Toufic’s work HERE