The Farhat Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art is the result of one man’s vision to bring into public focus a collection of paintings, photographs and conceptual art constructions that best represent the powerful artistic expressions of Contemporary Arab Artists. Naim Farhat started this project in earnest after learning of the destruction of many works of art during the occupation of Southern Lebanon and the bombing raids that followed after the occupation. The collection, as a whole, helps to bring voice to those who have been oppressed and reconstruct the collective memories of a people when powerful western interests have actively suppressed such memories. Mr. Farhat has not engaged the resources of governments or political organizations. Most of the funding for this project has come from his personal resources. Ultimately, the goal of the collection is to represent the lives of people in struggle in ways that are humanistic and informative. His work is to help the world to understand Arab people as people, and to deflect the gross caricatures of contemporary Arabs so prevalent in western media.
Art is one of the most powerful means of public expression and it is important for artists to reach out to as many people as possible. The worldwide web is the perfect vehicle for artistic expression; thus the reason for this web site. Artists do best in reflection of their experiences. The expression of these experiences as found in conceptual and political art, give voice to those who would otherwise be silent. Conceptual art is becoming a much more prominent part of the cultural milieu in the Middle East because of the complexity of those shared lives and experiences they represent. The dichotomy of conceptual art as expressed in the Middle East is that conceptual art is an approach found primarily in the West, but now used by Arab artists as foil against western colonialism. This is most apparent in Palestinian and Lebanese art. Most of the Farhat collection is political, but some works represent more traditional art to include Arab folk art and calligraphy. Photography is also an important part of the collection because these images are very rich representations of political struggle and human dignity in the face of extreme adversity. The collection includes many photographs, which have not been given the audience they deserve. It is not an exaggeration to say Western media has filtered these images, such that they are virtually unknown to the Western world. The collection conservators strive to find “signature images” more than “a signature on an image”. The Farhat museum searches for images that serve the thematic goals of the collection, so many of the powerful images collected are by unknown artists. Whether the art is signed George Roualt or an unsigned photographic postcard, both are given equal importance in regards to the humanitarian message conveyed.