Lost in Tunis

Project

Lost in Tunis is an online photographic archive which portrays and preserves the cultural heritage of the city of Tunis.

Interview

What prompted the project?

I started exploring the urban environment, roaming around the city looking for interesting or unusual buildings and architectural details. This, along with my interest in photography, lead me to explore the medium of the photograph as a means to document these peculiarities. I shared these images on my personal social media accounts and soon started attracting the attention and the curiosity of friends and followers who were asking me the location of these places which they had never previously seen.
Another important aspect to the equation is that there are not very many photographers working seriously on the urban context in Tunisia. This soon meant that the images which had been previously shared through social media outlets found their home in a dedicated website “Lost in Tunis.com” with the aim of sharing my discoveries at both a local and global scale.

How did the project develop through time?

The project developed as soon as I reached the realisation that, whilst many of the initial photographs were takes as a result of my own subjective interest, I was documenting the city and capturing the last moments of some of these unique buildings just before their demolition and complete disappearance. This encouraged me to take this mission more seriously and to look to documenting those architectural gems which are at risk of being forgotten forever. Tunis is rich in architectural artefacts that derive from the different dynasties that ruled throughout history up until the French colonial era. Discovering all of these unique historical layers makes one feel like a modern archaeologist, exploring a monument that is 1 or 2 hundred years old and that tells a lot about its construction era. It’s undeniable that ruins have something mesmerizing, they tell a story, and let you imagine their previous lives.
What started as a game of finding and capturing gorgeous photos of ruins became a documentation of disappearing architectural gems.

What defined the way you choose to frame these images?

This largely depends on the artefact being photographed as sometimes the conditions which surround it are so precarious and dangerous that one needs to ‘handle’ the work with care.

What defined the format of the online website? How and to what extent did the digital format enable for the project to become somehow collective?

The digital format and the use of social networks to interact with followers is very interesting from an interactive point of view and the idea of the project as one which is collective. In this regards many individuals have shared additional information and stories on the buildings whilst other have directed me to new and interesting places. In some specific cases some owners have even invited me to shoot their personal dwellings.

Where do you see the project developing in the future?

At the moment the project exists as a hobby that I undertake in my spare time. In the future I hope to extend my reach to other cities in Tunisia which also are home to numerous hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. I have moreover been able to share this through lectures and conversations with architecture professionals and students, which proved to be a very interesting experience as it enabled me to discuss the project further within the space of academia.

#Interviews