Yasmina Hilal – Crafting Curiosity

"The people of Lebanon and its streets stand as my foremost inspiration. The incredible sense of community we share, coupled with the powerful stories born from our collective experiences and traumas is what serves my creativity."

Yasmina Hilal – Crafting Curiosity
Omaia Jallad

Yasmina Hilal (Instagram) is a visionary Lebanese fashion/mixed media photographer and experimental filmmaker. Her artistic journey includes not just a mastery of her craft, but a daring exploration into uncharted territories. With an unwavering commitment to pushing beyond conventional boundaries, Hilal seamlessly weaves together diverse mediums and unconventional elements, creating a mesmerizing tapestry of imagery that sparks fascination and curiosity. In this enchanting odyssey of creativity, Hilal stands as a beacon, inviting audiences into a boundless universe where the spirit of innovation unfolds without restraint. Her artistry, marked by an ever-evolving palette, paints narratives that elicit fascination and beckon the curious mind. 

How did you first come about your unique aesthetic? 

My aesthetic dates back to 2002, a time when I would observe my mother immersing herself in the creative process on our balcony in Beirut. Her dedication and skill served as a powerful catalyst, sparking my own passion for working with mixed media. From that point forward, my artistic journey has been a continuous exploration of various techniques, marked by a spirit of experimentation and discovery.

In your process of collaging with different mediums, how do you decide which elements to combine, and what emotions or messages are you aiming to convey through this mix?

Embracing a trial-and-error approach, my artistic process involves spontaneous tests and finding beauty in mistakes. Without preplanning, the creative flow guides me through the creation of my work. The willingness to embrace surprises in my artistic process mirrors the essence of living in Lebanon, a place where adaptability and resilience in the face of the unexpected are intrinsic to daily life.

Is there a particular object that surprised you in its visual or emotional impact within your work? 

I’ve recently been working with resin and it has really opened up doors for me when it comes to sculptural work.

Does your Lebanese background shape the themes in your work, and how do you navigate the balance between local and international influences in your photography and filmmaking?

Living in Lebanon serves as my primary source of inspiration, and while international artists like Nan Goldin and Dante Rossetti influence my work, I find more inspiration closer to home in Lebanese artists such as Laure Ghourayeb and Akram Zaatari. 

The people of Lebanon and its streets stand as my foremost inspiration. The incredible sense of community we share, coupled with the powerful stories born from our collective experiences and traumas is what serves my creativity.

How do personal stories of your family influence your artwork’s themes, and what aspects of your family history are most compelling to express creatively?

My creative journey is profoundly shaped by my mother and grandmother, both influential figures who ignited my artistic passions. My mother, a photographer and collage artist, introduced me to the world of visual expression by gifting me my first camera at the age of 15. Meanwhile, my grandmother, who owned a clothing store in Lebanon named Beverly Hills, instilled in me a deep appreciation for fashion, becoming a driving force behind my love for this art form. Their combined influence has become my craft. 

As an experimental filmmaker, how does your approach to storytelling differ in film compared to photography, and what challenges and opportunities does the cinematic medium offer you?

My primary focus in college was experimental film, and although moving images were much more challenging than photography, it unexpectedly paved the way for advanced techniques in my collage work. The laborious process of animating on 16mm film, frame by frame, taught me patience and emphasized the importance of the process rather than the final product. The fusion of photography and film serves as the feature that sets my work apart, giving viewers a unique perspective and inviting them to engage with the artwork in an immersive way.

Which music genre would set the tone in your art studio, and is there a specific song that conveys the atmosphere of your creative space? 

I mainly listen to Indie Soul, Tarab or atmospheric music. But my top two bands would be Cocteau Twins and Massive Attack.

As an artist, how do you cultivate resilience, especially during times of creative blocks or external challenges?

Being born and raised in Lebanon, a country that has faced various challenges and hardships, has played a significant role in shaping my creative process. Adversity often becomes a powerful source of inspiration for many of us artists here, fueling artistic expression, resilience, and a unique perspective on life.

For more stories of art and culture, like this interview with Yasmina Hilal, visit our dedicated archives.