Walid Raad

Walid Raad: Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World / Part 1_Volume1_Chapter 1 (Beirut: 1992-2005)

Opening reception: Thursday, April 9, 6-9 pm

Artist talk: 6:30 pm

In 2007, Walid Raad initiated a research and art project about the history of contemporary and modern art in the Arab world. On the one hand, Raad's project explores the recent emergence of a new physical infrastructure for the visual arts in the Middle East and the Gulf in the form of workshops, festivals, funds, art schools, white-cube galleries, large museums, journals, and private and public collections. In a context where cultural tourism has become an instrument of economic growth and power, Raad's project identifies and unpacks the ideological, economic and political dimensions of this phenomenon. On the other hand, Raad proceeds from the writings of Jalal Toufic and his concept of "the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster" to also ask whether and how culture and tradition in the Arab world may have been affected, materially and immaterially, by the various wars that have been waged there by native and external powers.

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow expands upon Raad's The Atlas Group, a monumental study that examined the social, political, psychological and aesthetic conditions of the Lebanese wars through the collection, organization and production of archival documentation. This new project marks a critical juncture in Raad's practice, at once a departure from The Atlas Group while expanding its historical and theoretical framework. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, designed by Michael Worthington in collaboration with the artist, which serves as an extension of the discursive space for the project.

Walid Raad is an artist and an Associate Professor of Art in The Cooper Union (New York, USA).  Raad’s works include The Atlas Group, a fifteen-year project between 1989 and 2004 about the contemporary history of Lebanon, and the ongoing project titled Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Arab World. His books include The Truth Will Be Known When The Last Witness Is Dead, My Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair, and Let’s Be Honest, The Weather Helped.

Major support provided by The Herb Alpert Foundation. The Alpert Award in the Arts, a fellowship program that supports innovative practitioners in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theater and visual arts, is administered by CalArts on behalf of The Herb Alpert Foundation. This exhibition is also made possible by generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Eve Steele and Peter Gelles, the Nimoy Foundation, and the Harpo Foundation. The Standard is the official hotel of REDCAT. Free gallery admission underwritten by generous support from Ovation TV.

Special thanks to Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut; and Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.

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