We Decided to Let Them Say "We are Convinced" Twice (It was More Convincing this Way)
521 W 21st Street
NEW YORK – The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by Walid Raad. This will be the gallery’s first exhibition with this Lebanese-born artist whose work on the contemporary history of Lebanon has garnered much critical acclaim. The exhibition will run from 17 February through 24 March, 2007.
Raad’s work explores the experiences and representations of war through video, photography and performance. He is well-known for The Atlas Group, a 14-year project about the contemporary history of Lebanon. The collection of documents archived by Raad presents a fictional universe where the hysterical symptoms of the Lebanese wars are preserved and scrutinized. In the words of a recent critic, the works “function not as emblems of fact or scraps of evidence to support the assertions of history, but rather as traces, as symptoms, as strange structural links between history, memory, and fantasy.”1
The exhibition will include two series of photographs and a video piece expanding on Raad’s previous work. Untitled (1982-2007), a series of 15 large-scale photographs, is based on the Israeli Army’s invasion and siege of Beirut in 1982. That summer, the 15-year-old Raad photographed the invasion from the relative safety of his home in East Beirut. Recently reprinting the pictures from his carefully preserved original negatives, Raad discovered that the images’ unusual colors, creases, and holes offered a disturbing but realistic representation of a far-from-seamless world—punctured and scratched by the accumulating catastrophes.
In the 1970s, Raad avidly gathered bullets, excavating them from the walls, trees, and other spaces they pierced. Moreover, Raad photographed the sites of his findings, covering the holes with dots that corresponded to the diameter and color of his bullets. The fact that ammunition manufacturers follow distinct color codes to identify their bullets never crossed Raad’s mind at the time. In Untitled (1987-2007), Raad revisits this episode with a selection of 17 notebook plates, dedicated to 17 countries that continue to supply militias and armies fighting in Lebanon.
Finally, the video piece We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask (2006) documents an untimely collaboration between a car bomb investigator and a fearless photojournalist, focusing on diagrams, notes, videotapes and photographs produced by the team about a specific detonation in Beirut in 1986.
Walid Raad was born in Chbanieh, Lebanon, in 1967. He lives in New York and Beirut and has been Associate Professor of Art in The Cooper Union, New York, since 2002. His work has been presented at Documenta 11, Kassel (2002), the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennials, the 2003 Venice Biennale, the Kitchen, New York (2006) and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2006).
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie “Walid Raad: The Atlas Group Opens its Archives,” Bidoun, issue 02, Fall 2004. ↩