Samer Mohdad was born in 1964 at Bzebdine, Lebanon, to a father who was an engineer and a mother who was a poet. After almost eight years of childhood, the Lebanese civil war broke out and his adolescence was marked by bombs, exile, fighting, and the death of close friends and acquaintances.
After finishing studies in photography at St-Luc in Liège, Belgium,
In 1988, he began working for Paris-based photojournalism agency Vu, notably producing features on the other side of the Lebanese civil war (1988 – 1990), the Beirut prison (1988), and the children of the civil war (1991).
In 1990, he was commissioned by the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne to take a series of photographs of the Swiss army for a book and exhibition entitled ‘Voir la Suisse Autrement’, on the occasion of Switzerland’s 700 years of existence.
From 1992 to 1996, he was in charge of the relations with the Arab world at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. During this time, his photography concentrated on the Arab world.
In 1993, he published War Children, Lebanon 1985 – 1992, a book on the children of the Lebanese civil war. These photographs had been exhibited at Visa pour l’Image in Pérpignan in 1992, and were shown again after the book’s publication at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 1993 and and at the Musée de l’Elysée in 1994.
In 1992, he photographed 415 Palestinians expelled from Israel to no man’s land in the south of Lebanon, and then portrayed the same men a few years later in 1995 after they had returned to Gaza. Those photos were published in a book called Return to Gaza in 1996.
For Du, a cultural magazine published in Zurich, he in 1994 completed a special double feature on Islam and another two years later on Iran, a joint project with fellow photographers Thomas Kern and Daniel Schwartz.
In 1996, he was a jury member at the World Press Photo in Amsterdam and the same year he started up the Arab Images Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon.
From 1997 to 1999, he was curator of exhibitions and head of workshops at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France.
In 1999, he won the Mother Jones Award in San Francisco for his book Mes Arabies published by Actes Sud in France, Braus in Germany and Dar an-Nahar for the Arab countries. The exhibition of Mes Arabies started in Geneva, and was then shown in the Beiteddine Palace and at Espace SD in Lebanon.
In 2000, Mes Arabies was shown at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, and finally at the King Abdulaziz Pubic Library in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Mohdad also gave a lecture entitled “Arab photographs and their place in the modern history” during a conference at the University of Aix-en-Provence, South France.
In 2001, Mes Arabies was exhibited in Germany at the IFA galleries in Stuttgart, Bonn, and Berlin.
From 2001 to 2003, Mohdad installed the Center for Images at the King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In 2003, he published a double feature entitled “Saudi Arabia in the eye of the typhus” in Zurich-based magazine Du.
In 2004, he produced a special feature on Lebanon for GEO magazine, in France.
In 2005, he produced and published the book Assaoudia, the second part to The Arabs trilogy, in co-edition with Actes-Sud, and exhibited his work at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France.
The same year he elaborated the project Mes Ententes as part of the EU and government-sponsored AFKAR program to strengthen Lebanese civil society and promote dialogue between Lebanese youth. The project assessed the return of displaced families to Mount Lebanon, for which he produced a 7-minute film and a book of photographs.
In 2006, Mohdad worked on a special history issue of GEO magazine about the crusader routes in Lebanon, and started teaching photography at the Notre Dame University in Lebanon and at the Visual Merchandising School in Vevey, Switzerland.
In 2007, he started up www.menassat.com, a website focusing on news, trends and events in the media in the 22 member states of the Arab League from Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In 2008, he started cinema production and worked as executive producer for the movie “Tattooed Eye” by the Lebanese film director, Youmna Itani. This project involved a workshop in photographic arts and acting for young participants.
Mohdad also conducted a workshop for Bahraini photographers by invitation of the Bahraini Journalists Association.
In 2009, Mohdad showed his photographic works at the Doha Festival for Arts and Free Expression organized by the Arab Democracy Foundation in Qatar.
In 2010, his photographs of Saudi Arabia were published as a preface to the Decouvertes Gallimard book on Arabia.
He also gave a lecture entitles “Arab Images: Collecting History, Facts and Forecast,” at the Sunny Art Fair in Amman, Jordan.
In 2011 he exhibited his photographic works under the title “Accomplished Visions; The Arabs” at the gallery Mark Hachem in Beirut and showed “Assaoudia” at Menas Art Fair in Beirut.
He received the 2011 Pioneer Photographer Award from the National Geographic Society All Roads Photography program.
Samer Mohdad currently lives in Lebanon, he recently published a book “Beirut Mutations” with Actes Sud in France, it was launched first in Lebanon at the French Book Fair of Beirut and the exhibition was started at the French Institute of Lebanon last fall 2012.
His works were exhibited during springtime 2013 at the submarine base in Bordeaux in its cycle “Photographers for the History” and during summer of the same year at “Rencontres d’Arles in Black”.
Samer Mohdad was one of the Arabs leading artists invited by FotoFest Biennial 2014 in Houstaon, USA. His photographs are part of the touring exhibition VIEW FROM INSIDE Contemporary Arab Video, Photography and Mixed Media Art, that was showed during Abu Dhabi Festival 2015.
In 2015 he exhibited his works at Blue Sky, center of photographic art in Portland. The same year a selection of his works has been exhibited at Foto Istanbul, in Turkey.
In 2016, Samer Mohdad, new work in progress, “Views from my window here and elsewhere” has been exhibited at Hotel Dieu Museum in Tonnerre, France. The show was accompanied by a retrospective of his past works. The same year, he exhibited “The Arabs: accomplished visions” at the Sol Mednick Gallery, at the university of arts, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.
He is actually accomplishing an artistic residency in France, working on his new project “views from my window here and elsewhere”.
Samer Mohdad photographs are part of the following institutional collections:
- Fond d’Art Contemporain de la Communauté Française en Belgique
- FNAC, France
- Maison Européenne de la Photographie, France
- Photography Museum in Charleroi, Belgium
- Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland
- Galerie Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, France
- Photography Centre, Geneva, Switzerland
- Kunsthaus Lempertz, Germany
- IMA, Paris, France
- Autograph ABP, London UK
- British Museum, London UK
- Fifty Crows in San Francisco, USA
- Equity International in Chicago, USA
- Mark Hachem in Beirut, Lebanon
- National Geographic All Road Program, Washington, USA
- Museum of Fine Art Huston, USA
- CAP Kuwait
- Blue Sky, center of photographic art, Portland, USA
- Gallery Tanit, Beirut, Lebanon
- Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA
- Hotel Dieu Museum, Tonnerre, France