Monday, 25 October 2010

walid raad at the whitechapel gallery

Whitechapel gallery is currently exhibiting the artwork of Lebanese artist Walid Raad, who mainly works with photographs and videos, in contexts relating to narratives and archiving, history and hysteria...

I attended his interview at the gallery, a pleasant talk, where he discussed the photographic images and what they record and issues like image portraying a truth or resembling a reality? he says that he likes how camera acted as a permission to go to places (sometimes at risk), and to closed meetings to describe his beginnings and involvement with the political scene in Lebanon and the Middle East, he then speaks about the shift of the resistance from leftist (communist specifically) to Islamist, then back to photography and objects in photos that function as optical unconscious, for instance an unregistered ashtray in the background of an image was not meant to be there, and that later on serves the psychic comfort. A chapter of the interview is then dedicated to how Art and Culture are affected by the 'Surpassing Disaster'theory, to know more about the theory one should read Jalal Toufic's book (should do that myself), and finally one last part is a critique of the Art scene in the Arab world, 'what we are doing in the Arab world is just countering Orientalism', to defy the museums opening in Abu Dhabi for instance, Raad imagines a shrinking artwork, what happens if the artwork, on its way to the museum, shrinks? what will happen with the museum? will shrink as well? how will the museum deal with a photograph that just lost all its colors? I had questions in regard to this specific matter, whether the artist was talking about an actual physical shrinking or whether it's a compressed digital file or just an image size reduction. In the gallery's website, this is what I found:
"Upon their arrival in Lebanon all the works scheduled for a major retrospective are found to have miraculously shrunk to one hundredth of their original size.
These are just some of the stories that accompany the photographic and video works produced by Raad in his various art projects: as founder and member of The Atlas Group, as both instigator and executor of a series of self-posed photo assignments, and as a contemporary artist who claims via telepathic powers to communicate with artists from the future."

The show is entitled 'Miraculous Beginnings' and features a lot of his work over the past 20 years.

Walid Raad

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