Nadine Touma

Portrait Nadine Touma
© Hartwig Klappert

Nadine Touma was born in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1972 and, from 1990 to 1997, studied at Wellesley College in the USA before settling in Beirut as a freelance artist.

The issues at the heart of Touma’s work – as an installation artist, film producer, author, and publisher – are human rights, female physicality, Arab culture in text and language, war, violence and individual and collective trauma. She belongs to a group of artists who have assured Beirut’s contemporary arts scene international attention with their critical and political messages, and have enriched it with a humorous perspective. The desire for art to become anchored in the everyday life of children, and to no longer be the exclusive province of a small social élite, led in 2005 to the founding, with Raya Khalaf and Sivine Ariss, of the publisher »Dar Onboz« as a pan-Arabic platform for modern illustrative art. In the same year they published their first title, »Ayna asâbi’î?« (2005, Eng. »Where did my fingers go?«). The publisher’s goal of combining different concepts in content and style across the boundaries of individual media was clearly apparent. »When I was five years old I wrote ›The sun is a bowl of milk!‹ Since then, haunting images and words have inhabited my walls, papers, diaries, and now books. My love of life unravels in words that turn into stories, stories that become artworks that become books, for everyone to relish their worlds«. The publisher’s programme therefore includes the fairytale »sab’a wa 7« (2008, Eng. »Seven + 7«), about the nocturnal play of reflections on a lake surface, alongside the modern combination of children’s book and comics, seen in »hal hadhihi sûratun schamsiyya?« (2006, Eng. »Is this a passport photo?«), which deals with the child’s perspective in questions like »Are clouds sky’s ears?«. With her promotion of spoken Arabic dialects, which she integrates in her texts for children and young adults, the publisher and author clearly positions herself in the discussions in the Arabic-speaking world about the relationship between written and spoken dialect culture.

Nadine Touma’s children’s book »al-kharbascha« (2006, Eng. »Doodles«) was highly commended in the category »New Horizons« of the 2007 BolognaRagazzi Awards. Her publishing house »Dar Onboz« was shortlisted for the 2008 International Young Publishing Entrepreneur (IYPE) Award of the British Council. Nadine Touma lives and works in Beirut.

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