Scratching on things I could disavow. Section 88: Views from Outer to Inner Compartments, 2010

Installation view: Walid Raad - Scratching on Things I Could Disavow. A History of Art in the Arab World, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2011
Photo: Jakob Polacsek | TBA21

Single-channel video installation, color, silent
14 min
Overall dimensions variable

In 2007 Walid Raad initiated the art project Scratching on Things I Could Disavow about the history of art in the "Arab World", which leans on the recent emergence of a large new infrastructure for the visual arts in the "Arab World". These developments, when viewed alongside the geopolitical, economic, social, and military conflicts that have consumed the region in the past few decades, shape a rich yet thorny ground for creative work. With Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, Raad heeds the constraints and possibilities of this ground. Scratching on Things I Could Disavow. Section 88: Views from Inner to Outer Compartments is part of this project.

Over the past few years, Walid Raad has been fascinated by the emergence of new art museums, galleries, schools, and cultural foundations in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, Sharjah, and Doha, among others. He is intrigued by the increased visibility of the makers, sponsors, consumers, and histories of Arab art. And he is especially taken aback by the fast-paced development of a new infrastructure for the arts in the Arabian Gulf, an infrastructure that will include the largest-to-date Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum by Frank Gehry, a Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, a Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid, a maritime museum by Tadao Ando, and a Sheikh Zayed National Museum by Foster and Partners, all on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Sharjah’s efforts with its ongoing Biennale and Art Foundation, and Qatar’s Arab Museum of Modern Art as well as it's I. M. Pei designed Museum of Islamic Arts are no less ambitious. Such plans clearly attest to the Gulf states’ laudable mandate to showcase local and regional cultures in their full complexity. They also shore up nascent cultural tourism industries, and substantiate the benevolent intentions of the Gulf states’ rulers, further sanctioning their hereditary rule. In his analysis of this emerging infrastructure, Raad is less interested in the fraught motives that prompt the sheiks and sheikhas in the Gulf to invest in the arts than he is in screening these material developments through Jalal Toufic’s concept of "the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster."

Walid Raad (Ra'ad) (Arabic: وليد رعد) (born 1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon) is a contemporary media artist. The Atlas Group is a fictional collective, the work of which is produced by Walid Raad. He lives and works in New York, where he is currently an associate professor at the School of Art at the Cooper Union School of Art.

His works to date include film, photography, multimedia installations, and accompanying public performances. All, in one way or another, deal with the contemporary history of Lebanon with particular emphasis on the Lebanese Civil War of 1975–90. The work is also often concerned with the representation of traumatic events of collective historical dimensions; and the ways film, video, and photography function as documents of physical and psychological violence.[1] He is also a member of the Arab Image Foundation.[2]

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