Walid Raad – Scratching on Things I Could Disavow
May 26–June 15, 2011 | Wiener Festwochen / TBA21, Vienna

Walid Raad – Scratching on Things I Could Disavow (Detail view from Installation in “Told, Untold, Retold,” Installation view, Doha, Qatar), 2010
Photo: courtesy of the artist, Galerie Sfeir-Semler (Beirut / Hamburg)

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow engages with the fast-paced development in cities such as Abu-Dhabi, Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Istanbul and Sharjah of a new infrastructure for the visual arts. In a context where cultural tourism has become an instrument of economic growth and power, Raad’s project considers the ideological, economic and political dimensions of this phenomenon to 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 and are still being waged in this volatile region. Raad’s works also lean on Jalal Toufic’s concept of “the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster." 

Walid Raad takes the visitor from a detailed case study of The Artist Pension Trust and its enmeshment with a network of neoliberal actors, to an account of the accelerated emergence of art spaces and institutions in the Arab world, and finally to inexplicable physical phenomena like the flattening of art spaces, the shrinking of artworks, and the availability of colors, lines, and forms for contemporary Arab artistic creation.

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow expands upon the research-based methodology of Raad’s The Atlas Group  (1989–2004), the visual and performative archival project he has initiated to document the social, political, psychological and aesthetic conditions of the Lebanese wars (1975–1990/91). The new project marks a critical juncture in Raad’s practice, at once a departure from The Atlas Group while expanding its historical and theoretical reference.
The form of this project is an exhibition / performance. In other words, the project consists of an exhibition accompanied by a series of walk-throughs (or guided presentations) by Walid Raad. Each presentation will unfold with a small audience consisting of a maximum of 30 people. During times when the presentations are not taking place, the space is open and the sets are presented as artworks in an exhibition. 

Exhibition Walk-throughs in English by Walid Raad
Exhibition Walk-throughs in German by Markus Reymann (TBA21)
Concept and production: Walid Raad
Concept development collaborators and/or production assistants: Carlos Chahine, Raphael Fleuriet, Ryan Garrett, Kristine Khouri, Mores Mc Wreath, Markus Reymann, Celesta Rottiers, Lucien Samaha, Herman Sorgeloos, Situ Studio, Rémi Vidal
Executive Producer: Klein verzet vzw

Coproduction: Wiener Festwochen, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brüssel, Les Halles, Brüssel, HAU/Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin,
Supported by: Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut, Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris, Ville de Paris, Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes, Paris

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: 
A History of Art in the Arab World
A Project by Walid Raad

Edited by Eva Ebersberger and Daniela Zyman 
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
2 booklets (bilingual German / English), a fold-out poster, and a postcard. 
Booklet 1: 
Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World 
Booklet 2: 
Jalal Toufic, Credits Included / Abspann Inklusive 

Graphic design: SCHIENERL D/AD

ISBN: 978-3-95020645-6
Price: €12.00
May 26–June 15, 2011
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
supported by
Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein