Walid Raad – The Atlas Group

Whilst in New York I went to see an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art by Walid Raad who I had never previously heard of. Walid Raad is a contemporary media artist from Lebanon. He established “The Atlas Group” which is an imaginary foundation aiming to document, study and produce artefacts that shed light on the contemporary history of Lebanon.

“The project crosses a convoluted line between fact and fiction”

Secrets of the open sea

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The above is an image of the exhibition and when i saw these 6 inkjet prints I was puzzled as to what they were, upon reading the statement they’re said to have been “buried in the rubble during the 1992 demolition of Beirut’s war ravaged commercial districts.” they were then entrusted to the group in 1994 for preservation and analysis. it was found that there were small black and white latent images on the prints. They were group portraits of men and women and they later identified them as individuals who were drowned, died or were washed up in the Mediterranean between 1975 and 1991. I found the premise unbelievable, they utterly fascinated me at the time because as the viewer I believed it was truth, but on later research I realised that some of the work was fictional. Its interesting the relationship that the viewer has with work like this in a museum setting because it is automatically given a weight of importance and like me automatically believed.

 

 

Also included in the exhibition were a large number of photographs of bombs and grenades alongside images of the destruction resulting from their use, such as the above image of an overturned car mangled from an explosion with the engine hanging out. It really succeeded in highlighting the effects of a war ravaged country that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. The result was very emotive all together, whether it was fictitious or not I found not only the exhibition fascinating but also learning about Wallid Raad. Its also interesting to consider the implications of display and the feeling of importance that you get from viewing a piece of work in a gallery setting and how this could relate to my own work because beforehand I had never particularly considered it.

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