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

 

The Atlas Group (1989-2004)
2009

Between 1989 and 2004, I worked on a project titled The Atlas Group. It consisted of photographs, videotapes and sculptures made possible by the Lebanese wars of the past few decades.
In 2005, I was asked to exhibit this project for the first time in the Sfeir-Semler Gallery, the first of its kind white cube space in Beirut. I refused.
In 2006, I was asked again. I refused again.
In 2007, I was asked again. I refused again.
In 2008, I was asked again. I agreed.
When I went to the gallery to inspect my exhibition, I was surprised to find that all my artworks were reduced in scale to 1/100th of their original size. The photographs, videotapes, and sculptures had shrunk.
I decided to display them in a space befitting their new dimensions.
 

 

 

"Index XXVI: Artists", 2009

 

Appendix XXVI: ArtistsAppendix XXVI: Artists
2009

This work is based on the names of artists who worked in Lebanon in the past century. In 2002, artists from the future sent me these names by way of telepathy and/or thought insertion and/or using a future technology. That same year, I displayed the names in Beirut in white vinyl letters on a white wall.

Due to a telepathic and/or thought-insertion and/or technical glitch, one name (at least) seems to have reached me in distorted form and was misspelled: Johnny Tahan. It was corrected in red pencil by an unsympathetic critic, a self-appointed guardian of Lebanese art and artists.

I spent the last seven years researching the misspelled artist’s life and works, after which I concluded that future artists intentionally distorted Tahan’s name. They were not hailing past “artists” and their works but the color red in the critic’s hand-written corrections.

Future artists want or need this color because it is no longer available to them.

Is the color red not available to future artists because the pigments that constitute the color are depleted or destroyed?

No, the pigments remain quite abundant. The color red is not available to the artists of the future because this color has withdrawn even while extant.

 

 

 

 

Part I_Chapter 1_Section 271: Appendix XVIII: Plates

 

Appendix XVIII: Plates 88-151
2009

The Lebanese wars of the past three decades affected Lebanon’s residents physically and psychologically: from the one hundred thousand plus who have been killed; to the two hundred thousand plus who have been wounded; to the million plus who have been displaced; to the countless who have been psychologically traumatized. Needless to say, these wars also affected Lebanese cities, their neighborhoods and institutions.


It is also clear today that these wars 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 treasures or politically compromised artworks, remain physically intact but are removed from view, possibly never to be seen again. And yet others, sensing the forthcoming danger, deploy defensive measures: they hide, camouflage, or dissimulate.

I expected such colors, lines, shapes and forms to hide in paintings, sculptures, films, photographs and drawings. I thought that artworks would be their most hospitable hosts. I was wrong. Instead, they took refuge in Roman and Arabic letters and numbers; in circles, rectangles and squares; in yellow, blue and green. They dissimulated as fonts, covers, titles, indices; as the graphic lines and footnotes of books; as letters, dissertations and catalogues; as diagrams and spreadsheets; as budgets and price lists. They planted themselves inside frames that circulated not front and center but on the periphery of Lebanon’s cultural landscape.

These are the colors, lines, shapes and forms that compose the 23 plates on display in this room.
The Plates:

Appendix XVIII: Plate 88 _ Untitled and/or A History of Art

Appendix XVIII: Plate 90 _ Untitled and/or A History of Art

Appendix XVIII: Plate 89 _ Untitled and/or A History of Art

Appendix XVIII: Plate 142 _ Untitled and/or A History of Exhibitions

Appendix XVIII: Plate 105 _ Untitled and/or A History of Museums

Appendix XVIII: Plate 99 _ Untitled and/or A History of Juries

Appendix XVIII: Plate 91 _ Untitled and/or A History of Salons

Appendix XVIII: Plate 99 _ Untitled and/or A History of Armenians

Appendix XVIII: Plate 91 _ Untitled and/or A History of Dissertations

Appendix XVIII: Plate 94 _ Untitled and/or A History of Donors

Appendix XVIII: Plate 92 _ Untitled and/or A History of Monographs

Appendix XVIII: Plate 108 _ Untitled and/or A History of Genres

Appendix XVIII: Plate 101 _ Untitled and/or A History of Indices

Appendix XVIII: Plate 102 _ Untitled and/or A History of Editions

Appendix XVIII: Plate 104 _ Untitled and/or A History of Foundations

Appendix XVIII: Plate 106 _ Untitled and/or A History of Budgets

Appendix XVIII: Plate 93.1 _ Untitled and/or A History of Ministries

Appendix XVIII: Plate 151 _ Untitled and/or A History of Price Lists

Appendix XVIII: Plate 96.1 _ Untitled and/or A History of Fairs

Appendix XVIII: Plate 95 _ Untitled and/or A History of Galleries

Appendix XVIII: Plate 136 _ Untitled and/or A History of Gifts

Appendix XVIII: Plate 98 _ Untitled and/or A History of Essays

Appendix XVIII: Plate 103 _ Untitled and/or A History of Titles

Appendix XVIII: Plate 97 _ Untitled and/or A History of Contemporary

Appendix XVIII: Plate 22 _ Untitled and/or A History of Venice (IV)

 

 

 

 

Untitled

 

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow:
A History of Art in the Arab World: Part I _ Volume 1 _ Chapter 1 (Beirut: 1992 ­ 2005)



Raad’s ongoing project titled Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World proceeds from the recent emergence in the Arab world of a new infrastructure for the visual arts comprising arts festivals, workshops, fairs, biennales, museums, galleries, funds, schools, journals and collections, among others. These developments, when viewed alongside the geo-political, economic, social, and military conflicts that have consumed the region in the past few decades, form a rich and knotty ground for creative work. Raad’s exhibition presents forms and stories made possible by this ground.

Raad refers to the three works in the show (which include sculptures, photographs, and mixed media installations) as stage sets from a forthcoming play about the history of art in the Arab world.

The exhibition expands upon Raad’s The Atlas Group, a 15-year project that examined the social, political, psychological and aesthetic ramifications of the various wars that have been waged in Lebanon.

Walid Raad was born in Chbanieh, Lebanon, in 1967. His work has been exhibited in prominent national and international exhibitions. Most recently, his work was the subject of “The Atlas Group: A Project by Walid Raad,” a one-person show at the Photo Espana 2009 at the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid. Earlier this year “Scratching on Things I Could Disavow” was exhibited at REDCAT, Los Angeles. Raad’s work has also been presented at Documenta 11, Kassel (2002), Homeworks, Beirut (2005), the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennials, the 2003 Venice Biennale, the Kitchen, New York (2006) and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2006). In 2007 Raad was awarded the Alpert Award, presented by CalArts, Los Angeles and in 2009 he was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. In 2009 Raad was nominated for the HUGO BOSS Price 2010.

Raad lives in Beirut and New York and has been an Associate Professor of Art at The Cooper Union’s School of Art, New York, since 2002.