Artista

Walid Raad

Sweet Talk. Commissions (Beirut) _ 1987

1987 - 2019, Inkjet prints. Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler gallery Beirut/Hamburg

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These plates are from a book Raad found at a flea market in Beirut in 1994. It consists of streetscapes of the city by an unsung Lebanese photographer, Ahmed Helou. What also drew the artist to the book were the anonymous hand-written inscriptions in English and Arabic on each spread.

Raad constantly questions the distinctions between the artistic format as a trait of imagination and the journalistic/documentary format as that of reality. His activity is presented through lectures, exhibitions and an archive – a set of organised classified documents where the original material is never available: only digitalised forms are presented via multimedia presentations in museum spaces and conferences. Despite the fact that Raad introduces it as a project to collect, produce and archive documents, they are often mistaken for straight evidence. In the works presented here, as well as throughout the artist’s practice, the viewer is asked not to address the question of fiction head on – i.e. by playing between what is true and what is fabricated – but rather to ‘read’ the actual landscape of a city, a region or a history as though it were an artwork.

Ultimately, Raad’s work does not document what occurred, but what can be imagined, giving the opportunity to the viewer to experience what is transmitted as being as complex as the means of transmission itself.

Walid Raad (Chbanieh, Lebanon, 1967). He lives and works in New York, USA. He is an artist and professor at the Cooper Union in New York. He founded The Atlas Group (1984-2004), an art collective exploring the history of Lebanon. He has had solo exhibitions at Musée du Louvre, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; ICA, Boston; Museo Jumex, Mexico City and The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. His work has been presented at Documenta 11 and 13 (Kassel, Germany); the 50th Venice Biennale; Whitney Biennial 2000 and 2002 in New York; Sao Paulo Bienale, Brazil and Istanbul Biennal. He has won the Hasselblad Award (2011), Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007) and the Camera Austria Award (2005).

Sweet Talk. Commissions (Beirut) _ 1987

1987 - 2019, Inkjet prints. Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler gallery Beirut/Hamburg

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