Selected by Farah Al Qasimi
Nabil Harb is part of a new era of artists using photography to tell stories that are at once hyperlocal and globally relevant. Often shooting in black-and-white, he creates images that veer between moments of bucolic calm and startling intimacy. Grasshoppers (2020) shows a fencepost holding up strands of barbed wire, the wooden post spiked with a dozen sizeable examples of the insect. In J&J (2019) we see the backs of two men at a drag show, one leaning into the other in a quiet embrace among the crowd. Both of these are Harb’s Florida.
I first met Harb in Miami in 2017; I was in graduate school and had driven down to Florida from Connecticut looking for people to photograph. He reached out via Instagram and directed me to a beautiful state park, where I took his portrait by a palm tree. We became friends after that, and I admire the way his work has grown sharper and more curious at the same time. I love all of his photographs of Florida, because I don’t look at them so much as I experience them – they translate the sunlight’s persistence, the perpetual wetness of humidity, the comfort and weariness of living anywhere for long enough. Backyard (2021) is a landscape dense with overgrown foliage, the broken-down cars in the next yard, just beyond the wire fence, almost blending in with the ivy.
There are countless documents of the American South that are considered canon because the identities of their makers fit the criteria for ‘objective looking’. In this era of divisiveness and anti-Arab sentiment, I’m more interested in seeing the pockets of Florida where a queer Palestinian American feels a sense of belonging. That is what feels the most like the present tense.
Nabil Harb is a Palestinian-American artist born and raised in Central Florida. He completed his mfa in photography at Yale University, New Haven, in 2021. He won the NLGJA’s Excellence in Photojournalism Award in 2023.
Farah Al Qasimi is an artist working in photography, video and performance. She is based in New York and Abu Dhabi.