Of the nearly 18,000 objects held in the Louvre’s newly established Département des Arts de l’Islam, 294 will be loaned to the Louvre Abu Dhabi sometime between 2016 and 2046.

Of the 294 objects, the following 28 will be affected by the journey in ways that historians, curators, and conservators could not have anticipated nor predicted.

While no one will doubt the subsequent changes, the nature and reason of their onset will be contested. Many will attribute them to the weather, asserting that the “corrosion” began soon after the exquisitely crafted, climate-controlled crates were opened in the Arabian Desert. Others will insist they are immaterial and psychological, expressed only in the dreams and psychological disorders of non citizens working in the Emirate. And a few, the rare few, will speculate that they are aesthetic and came into view only once, in the enclosed 28 photographs produced by an artist during her Emirati-sponsored visit to the museum in 2026.

 

 

 


Preface to the Seventh Edition, 2012

Six paintings on display in an Emirati museum and considered to be canonical examples of early 20th century Arab abstraction were removed from view last June.

Was it because their auction-house-confirmed provenance was suddenly in question? No.

Was it because some orthodox figure had ‘read between the lines’ a veiled threat to the legitimacy of the Sheikhs’ rule? No.

It was because the painter’s recently discovered journals revealed that the works, hitherto attributed as Untitled, were in fact:

Painting of a painting’s shadow: One
Painting of a painting’s shadow: Two
Painting of a painting’s shadow: Three
Painting of a painting’s shadow: Four
Painting of a painting’s shadow: Five
Painting of a painting’s shadow: Six

 

 

 


Preface to the Second Edition, 2012

I was recently taken aback by how most paintings on display in the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha lack some (but not all) reflections. I decided to provide some with these works. I am hoping that the reflections in my photographs will eventually leave my works and attach themselves to the paintings in the museum.
Preface to the Second Edition

 

 

 



Appendix XVIII: Plates 22-257

he Lebanese wars of the past three decades affected Lebanon’s residents physically and psychologically: from the 100,000 plus who were killed; to the 200,000 plus who were wounded; to the 1,000,000 plus who were displaced; to the even more who were psychologically traumatized.

It is clear to me today that these wars also affected colors, lines, shapes and forms. Some of these are affected in a material way and, like burned books or razed monuments, are physically destroyed and lost forever; others, like looted treasure or politically compromised artworks, remain physically intact but are removed from view, possibly never to be seen again. And
yet other colors, lines, shapes and forms, sensing the forthcoming danger, deploy defensive measures: they hide, take refuge, hibernate, camouflage and/or dissimulate. I expected them to do so in the artworks of past artists. I thought their paintings and sculptures would be their most hospitable hosts. I was wrong. Instead, colors, lines, shapes and forms took refuge in unexpected places: they hid in Roman and Arabic letters and numbers; in circles, rectangles,
and squares; in yellow, blue and green. They dissimulated as fonts, covers, titles and indices; as the graphic lines and footnotes of books; they camouflaged themselves as letters, price lists, dissertations and catalogs; as diagrams and budgets. They hibernated not in but around artworks.

These are the colors, lines, shapes and forms that compose the plates displayed here.

 

 

 

Appendix XVIII: Plates 22 - 154, 2009, Set of 23 plates

 

 

 

Part I_Chapter 1_Section 271: Appendix XVIII: Plates

 



Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World, 2008 - present

 

Sharjah Biennial 2011, installation views

 

 

 

Index XXVI, Artists, Tahhan Wall 001, details

 

 

 

Index XXVI, Artists, Saadi Wall 004, details

 

 

 

Index XXVI, Artists, Zohrab Wall 005, detail

 

 

 

Raad-Index XI Artists_ Johnny Tahhan

drywall, paint, wood, vinyl, archival inkkjet prints, dimension variable

 

 

 

Untitled

 

 

 

floorpiece I - IV, high density foam . not produced

 

 

 

Part I_Chapter 1_Section 139: The Atlas Group (1989-2004)

 

 

 

Part I_Chapter 1_Section 79: Walid Sadek’s Love Is Blind (Modern Art Oxford, UK, 2006)

 

 

 

Part I_Chapter 1_Section 79: Index XXVI: Artists

 

This is a random choice of names of Lebanese painters listed between the end of the XIXth century and 1990. The names are fitted to the complete length of the room. Each name is written in Arabic, cut in white vinyl, and mounted in 3 layers on the wall.  

 

 

 

Part 1_Chapter 1_Section 8a: Museums, 2008

 

 

 

"Index XXVI: Artists", 2009

 

 

 

Cotton under my Feet, 2007-2011, Set of 96 plates, inkjet print on archival paper, 23,4 x 29,8 cm, each, framed, Edition 7 + 2 a.p.

 

I Feel A Great Desire Meet The Masses Once Again.

For months after 9/11, I could not remember the color of the sky over New York on that day. For some reason, I needed to see that blue again, desperately looking for it in photo and video archives, and on color swatches in paint stores.

Over time, I forgot about the sky. That is, until the beginning of various terrorist-related trials a few years later. I was taken aback that almost every prosecutor and defense attorney in the US began their respective opening statements with lengthy descriptions of the clear blue sky on 9/11.

I still cannot remember the exact color of the sky on that fateful September day, but the trials in Seattle, Portland, Detroit, and Alexandria have helped me narrow it down to ninety-six shades of blue.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Talk: Beirut Commissions, 1987 - 2010, archival inkjet prints, 113,5 x 189,5 cm, Edition 7 + 1ap

 

 

 

"I Might Die Before I Get A Riffle", 1989 - 2008, 160 x 212,5 cm, Edition 7 + 1 AP

 

"I might die before I get a Rifle" (1989)

works by Farrid Sarroukh, Janah Hilwé, Maha Traboulsi, Hannah Mrad and Mhammad Sabra
a Projekt of Walid Raad
curated by Marwan Baroudi

In 1989, Marwan Baroudi, chief curator of Part Four in Alexandria (Egypt) mounted an exhibition titled, I Might Die Before I Get A Rifle. The exhibition featured the works of five artists from Lebanon: Farrid Sarroukh, Janah Hilwé, Maha Traboulsi, Hannah Mrad, and Mhammad Sabra. It brought together five projects by artists who explored how the physical and psychological violence of the past fourteen years in Lebanon had been lived, experienced, and formed.
Remarkably, a few years later, in 2002, many of the same documents would emerge again, but this time attributed to The Atlas Group, an art project by the artist Walid Raad. Over the years, Raad has proposed various definitions of his project. Today, he refers to The Atlas Group as “an art project undertaken between 1989 and 2004 about the possibilities and limits of writing the contemporary history of Lebanon, and/or The Atlas Group is an artwork produced sometime in the last decade about a universe of objects, characters, and situations in and from Lebanon that can only emerge in fiction”.

In 2004, Johan Holten asked Marwan Baroudi to revisit his I Might Die Before I Get A Rifle. Baroudi and Holten were interested in making available again the 1989 exhibition, displaying the same artworks, complete with original captions. This proved to be more difficult than originally thought as Baroudi spent four years tirelessly locating and gathering the original artworks from the various places where they had scattered. This exhibition owes much to his endurance and perseverance, and to the generosity of the various collectors, institutions, and others who preserved these artworks. The Heidelberger Kunstverein is very grateful for their willingness to loan the works for this exhibition.
 

 

 

Untitled, 1982-2007, archival inkjet prints on archival paper, 43 x 56 cm each

 

We Decided To Let Them Say “We Are Convinced” Twice. It Was More Convincing This Way. In the summer of 1982, I stood along with others in a parking lot across from my mother’s apartment in East Beirut, and watched the Israeli land, air, and sea assault on West Beirut. The PLO along with their Lebanese and Syrian allies retaliated, as best they could. East Beirut welcomed the invasion, or so it seemed, and that much is certain. West Beirut resisted it, or so it seemed, and that much is certain. One day, my mother even accompanied me to the hills around Beirut to photograph the invading Israeli army stationed there. Soldiers rested their bodies and their weapons as they waited for their next orders to attack, retreat or stay put. I was 15 in 1982, and wanted to get as close as possible to the events, or as close as my newly acquired camera and lens permitted me that summer. This past year, I came upon my carefully preserved negatives from that time. I decided to look again.
 

 

 

 

"Oh God, he said", 2006, 43,1 x 55,9 cm each, Framed digital print, Set of 31 plates, Ed.: 5 + 1 ap (Text PDF)

 

 

 

 

"Let´s be honest, the weather helped", 2006
Set of 7 plates, framed digital prints, 45 x 72 cm, Edition: 7 + 1 a.p.

 

 

 

"Let´s be honest, the weather helped II", 2007
Set of 5 plates, archival inkjet prints on archival paper, 45 x 72 cm each, Edition: 7 + 1 a.p.

 

 

 

"Let´s be honest, the weather helped III", 2007
Set of 5 plates, archival inkjet prints on archival paper, 45 x 72 cm each, Edition: 7 + 1 a.p.

 

Like many around me in Beirut in the early 1980's, I collected bullets and shrapnel.  I would run out to the streets after a night or day of shelling to remove bullets from walls, cars, and trees.  I kept detailed notes of where I found every bullet by photographing the sites of my findings, and by placing colored dots over the bullet holes in my black and white photographs.  The color of the dots corresponded to the mesmerizing hues I found on bullets’ tips.  The colors were also faithful to the distinct code devised by manufacturers in different countries to mark their cartridges and shells.  Over the years, and to complement my collection, I purchased bullets from vendors on the streets, seeking out the entire spectrum of colors that adorned the tips of the 7.62 X 43 mm. cartridge used in AK-47s or of the 5.45 X 45 mm. cartridge used in M-16s.  It took me 25 years to realize that my notebooks had all along catalogued the 23 countries that had armed or sold ammunitions to the various militias and armies fighting the Lebanese wars, including the U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, Switzerland, and China.

 

Press

 

    

Gallery is pleased to present the first Beirut solo exhibition by Walid Raad titled: A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art _ Part I _ Chapter 1: Beirut 1992-2005. The exhibition includes six new works, including mixed media installations, sculptural works, and photographs. Over the past ten years, the Arab world has witnessed the emergence of a number of contemporary art festivals, art funds, cultural institutions, art galleries, art fairs, and collectors of contemporary art. Moreover, the planned construction of several large art museums and art schools in the Arab Gulf raises a number of questions about how culture, and in particular contemporary visual art will be conceived, made, distributed, and consumed in the future, not only in the Gulf, but in the Arab world in general, and beyond. Needless to say, these developments are part of a broader economic trend whereby cultural tourism figures more and more as an engine of economic growth, as has been evident in Europe, North and South America, and the Near and Far East.
In 2008, Walid Raad initiated a research project about the history of contemporary and modern Arab art. On the one hand, his project aims to identify and unpack the ideological, economic, and political dimensions of this recent fascination with visual art in the Arab world. On the other hand, and proceeding from the writings of Jalal Toufic and his concept of “the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster,” Raad intends to examine 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.
Raad’s exhibition in the Sfeir-Semler Gallery is his first solo show in Lebanon and the Middle East. The exhibition is titled A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art _ Part I _ Chapter 1: Beirut 1992-2005. With this exhibition, Raad presents the first chapter of his on-going art project. The works concentrate on a range of concerns, from the above-mentioned emergence of a high art infrastructure in Beirut over the past fifteen years (the advent of not-for-profit cultural institutions, white cube galleries, grassroots festivals, national biennale participation, etc.) to a close study of the question of intra-art historical reference in fellow artists’ artworks. In this sense, Raad presents two complimentary propositions. He proposes an analysis of the local, regional, and international “fascination” with artworks and artists form the Arab world and Lebanon. And he creates works of art where the very buildings blocks of his images and forms are precisely the elements (contemporary and historical) made available by this emerging infrastructure for the creation, distribution, and consumption of Arab artworks and artists. Moreover, he creates artworks that attempt to be referential, in the sense that they hail other Lebanese and non-Lebanese artists and artworks.
Raad’s exhibition is divided into 6 sections, each occupying a distinct space in the gallery. The exhibited sections are titled:
- Preface: Title 23
- Appendix XVIII: Plates
- The Atlas Group (1989-2004)
- Museums
- Walid Sadek’s Love Is Blind (Modern Art, Oxford, U.K.)
- Index XXVI: Artists.
As such, the exhibition takes the form of an unfolding book or research project, sections of which are made available in the gallery. Each section considers an element of this amorphous field for the production, distribution, and consumption of artists and artworks in Lebanon. For example, in the section titled Appendix XVIII: Plates, Raad creates images using colors, texts, and images extracted from various documents he has been gathering over the past few years such as exhibition and festival catalogs, art school mission statements, theoretical publications, museum proposals, artists indexes, art historical dissertations and theses, and art market data). These documents are here deployed as formal elements in six large photographic triptychs (175 X 405 cm. each). Book and exhibitions titles, book covers, and office stationary here become the building blocks and forms for the creation of seemingly abstract and highly formalized images.
In the section titled Index XXVI: Artists, Raad displays the names of over 150 artists who have worked in Beirut over the past one hundred years. The names, barely more than two centimeters in height each, are printed on white vinyl letters, and mounted in one of the gallery’s white walls in a twenty-two meter straight line. The names literally disappear and appear in the room, thus marking the white cube gallery space as the condition of both the visibility and invisibility of the artist as a figure with a name, a history, and a biography. With this exhibition, Raad expands the investigation he began with his fifteen-year art project titled The Atlas Group about the question of the document in media arts, violence and its various physical, psychological and phenomenal forms, and the possibilities and limits of creative acts. With The Atlas Group, Raad’s exploration was concentrated on historical and fictional events and situations about the wars in Lebanon over the past thirty years. In A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art _ Part I _ Chapter 1: Beirut 1992-2005, Raad’s objects of study are the notions of the modern and the contemporary in Arab Art, and (following the writer and artist Jalal Toufic) how creative acts by artists, writers, and other thinkers may help us think, feel, and experience how and if the violence of the past decades in Lebanon and the Arab world has affected citizens, cities, and objects but also culture and tradition broadly, materially and immaterially.
Narrative Biography
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 A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. 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.
Raad’s works have been shown at Documenta 11 (Kassel, Germany), The Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy), The Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, Germany), The Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), Homeworks (Beirut, Lebanon) and numerous other museums and venues in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Raad is also the recipient of the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007), and the Camera Austria Award (2005).
Raad’s works are included in the following collections: The Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, USA), The Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA), The British Museum (London, UK), Tate Modern (London, UK), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), FNAC (Paris, France), National Galerie (Berlin, Germany), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany), MMK (Frankfurt, Germany), MOMAC (Vienna, Austria), Museion (Bolzano, Italy), Kunsthaus Zurich (Zurich, Swtzerland), among others.