Rima Canaan Lee was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and grew up in Hamburg, Germany. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University, and completed extensive coursework in art history and film studies in both undergraduate and graduate school. She credits her obsession with photography to her study of literature.
“For me, each photograph is a poem or a short story. Just as the written word yields or resists yielding a narrative, a photograph communicates a story or history. However, while a linguistic text unfolds as it is read, through time, the photograph communicates almost instantaneously. I am interested in how the photograph relies on the simultaneity of vision versus the sequentiality of language to construct meaning. In particular, how do seemingly conflicting aspects of an image, whether juxtapositions of form or color or contrasts in subject matter or actual depictions of wear and tear, breathe life into a photograph and multiply its meaning? How do photographs reflect visually rather than verbally our psyche in all of its messiness and contradictions? So whether I’m photographing a Moorish tile in Spain or a grave in New Orleans, I am always sensitive to and on the lookout for the fissures that speak to me and that promise to deliver a multilayered narrative.”