When you meet Nadine you can immediately tell you are facing a woman and artist who is well conscious and proud of her Arab heritage. Nadine’s entire work, as both a photographer and designer, arises from a central theme: identity. It is the idea from which her Jewelry line, Bil Arabi, initiated, taking inspiration from the beauty of Arabic culture and the lyricism of the Arabic alphabet. The exploration of her own identity and the one of her nation, Lebanon, are often intertwined in Nadine’s photography projects, through which she explores the roots of Lebanese nationalism and the essence of modern Arabic identity: she does it discreetly, without taking a stand or suggesting solutions always leaving room for her images to talk and her audience to ponder. Nadine’s work shows a lot of nostalgia too: she believes that a strong relationship with the past is essential to live in the future and to have a correct understanding of what it means to be Arab in today’s society. Nadine draws on the past, always giving her works a modern twist: her pieces of jewelry are finely crafted to give an updated interpretation of the Arabic language and to convey new visual messages. Somehow Nadine’s work is both a work of preservation and innovation. Reason why it has gained international recognition, testified by the recent collaboration Nadine undertook with Italian designer Cruciani who asked her to create her own design of the worldwide famous bracelet. And that is exactly what she did, using her signature language to convey a message of love.
H: Do you belong more to the past, the present or the future?
N: There is a lot of nostalgia shown in my work: whoever does not have a past can’t live in the future. But I live in the present.
H: What of your country’s heritage represents you the most?
D: The way we welcome people
H: Something of your family’s heritage which you would like to bring forward?
N: The pride and our Arab identity . My family gave it to me and I have to pass it on to my kids
H: An heritage image?
N: A family reunion when everyone sits at a table sharing food and talking
H: A place?
H: A word?
H: A sound?
N:The sound of the sea
H: An object belonging to your own heritage?
N: A necklace worn by my mother and given to me
H: A time in history you would like to live again?
N: The late 40’s and early 50’s. This is when the Arab Identity and nationalism started.
H. Something heritage you would like to wear?
N: A vintage Dior skirt with calligraphy prints
H: Something from your present meant to become heritage?
D: My Jewelry!
Photos: Courtesy of Nadine Kanso
Nadine’s Art: Cuadro Gallery