Walid Raad’s Lebanon shows in Sweden for first time – picture post

LEBANESE CONTEMPORARY ART PHOTOGRAPHY VIDEO SOLO EXHIBITION

New York-based Lebanese artist Walid Raad is exhibiting in Sweden for the first time. Shown in “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” are a series of photographs and videotapes which capture the changing face of Beirut, the Lebanese civil war (using documentation from The Atlas Group Archives) and the rapid growth of the Arab art world.

The exhibition press release from BildMuseet says of the solo:

One of the most important artists from the Middle East, Raad says his work ‘was in some ways made possible by the civil wars in Lebanon.’ He playfully considers the effects of conflict not only on body and mind, but also on art itself. [This] exhibition presents his most important works from the past twenty years.

We managed to get our hands on one of the beautifully produced exhibition catalogues and have quoted from it below…

Raad’s art is a meditation on storytelling, on the way jokes and fables proceed from trauma, and history proceeds from geography. It revels in the aesthetics of colour, of sunsets and of horse racing; it proposes making rain and performing miracles.

Walid Raad, 'Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut)' (detail), 1987-present, 111.8 x 188 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; and Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut)’ (detail), 1987-present, 111.8 x 188 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; and Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut. © The artist.

[Some of my works are] created with the assumption that they will have multiple formats,… that they will be presented as installations in museums, galleries and exhibition halls … and as pages for books. The different formats at times intensify and at other times dilute certain qualities in the work. Most of the concepts, experiences and experiments that motivate my artworks appear to me to be quite elastic in the sense that they are not necessarily attached to a specific media….


– Walid Raad, “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

Walid Raad, 'Let’s be honest, the weather helped (plate 001_Saudi Arabia)', 1998/2006-7, 17 Lightjet prints, each 46.8 x 72.4 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Let’s be honest, the weather helped (plate 001_Saudi Arabia)’, 1998/2006-7, 17 Lightjet prints, each 46.8 x 72.4 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, 'Let’s be honest, the weather helped (plate 008_Finland)', 1998/2006-7, 17 Lightjet prints, each 488 x 72.4 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Let’s be honest, the weather helped (plate 008_Finland)’, 1998/2006-7, 17 Lightjet prints, each 488 x 72.4 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.

It took me ten years to realise that ammunition manufacturers follow distinct colour codes to mark and identify their cartridges and shells. It also took me another ten years to realise that my notebooks in part catalogue seventeen countries and organisations that continue to supply the various militias and armies fighting in Lebanon….


– Walid Raad, “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

Walid Raad, 'Civilizationally, we do not dig holes to bury ourselves', 1958-59/2003, 24 digital prints, each 25.4 x 20.3 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Civilizationally, we do not dig holes to bury ourselves’, 1958-59/2003, 24 digital prints, each 25.4 x 20.3 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, 'Civilizationally, we do not dig holes to bury ourselves', 1958-59/2003, 24 digital prints, each 25.4 x 20.3 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Civilizationally, we do not dig holes to bury ourselves’, 1958-59/2003, 24 digital prints, each 25.4 x 20.3 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.

The only available photographs of Dr Fakhouri consist of twenty-four black-and-white self-portraits that were found in a small brown envelope titled, Civilizationality, we do not dig holes to bury ourselves. The historian produced the photographs in 1958 and 1959 during his one and only trip outside Lebanon, to Paris and Rome.


– “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

Walid Raad, 'Appendix XVIII: Plate 93_Untitled and/or a History of a Ministry', 2010, digital print, 161.9 x 129.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Appendix XVIII: Plate 93_Untitled and/or a History of a Ministry’, 2010, digital print, 161.9 x 129.5 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut. © The artist.

I have rarely made an image that consisted of a single colour. … The large plates from “Appendix XVIII: Plates” include for the most part more than one colour as well as some letters, words, forms and lines. But these colours, lines and forms are all ‘on loan’ from various documents. My approach here is similar to that of some documentary photographers; I produce an image by ‘borrowing’ historical facts.


– Walid Raad, “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

Walid Raad, 'My neck is thinner than a hair: Engines (plate 2_7_88S)', 2001/2003, 100 digital prints, each 25 x 35 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘My neck is thinner than a hair: Engines (plate 2_7_88S)’, 2001/2003, 100 digital prints, each 25 x 35 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.

Your use of scale is especially skillful…. You use a focus on detail to draw the viewer right into the picture. My neck is thinner than a hair: Engines (2001/2003) or “Oh God,” he said, talking to a tree (2004/2008) are prime examples of this strategy.


– Achim Borchardt-Hume, ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ (interview), “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

Walid Raad, 'Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire', 1991/2003, 9 digital prints, each 30 x 42 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.
Walid Raad, ‘Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire’, 1991/2003, 9 digital prints, each 30 x 42 cm. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. © The artist.

This notebook contains 145 cut-out photographs of cars. They correspond to the exact make, model and colour of every car that was used as a car bomb between 1975 and 1991.


– “Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” exhibition catalogue

The Atlas Group was founded by Walid Raad in 1989 and he continued to use the project to document the contemporary history of Lebanon until 2004. The research documents related to this project are stored in The Atlas Group Archive in three categories: Files Type A (documents attributed to individuals); Files Type FD (documents attributed to anonymous individuals or institutions; Files Type AGP (documents attributed to The Atlas Group).

“Walid Raad: Miraculous Beginnings” showed at London’s Whitechapel Gallery before coming to BildMuseet, where it will stay until 25 April, 2011.

KN/HH

Related Topics: Lebanese artists, West Asian artists, photography, video art

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