Walid Raad: Yet Another Letter To The Reader

Fondazione Volume!

Via San Francesco di Sales 86/88, Roma

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6 February – 28 April 2017This exhibition is now closed
Tuesday to Friday 5pm–7:30pm
Free admission
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Yet Another Letter to the Reader is a project by Walid Raad, (Chbanieh, Lebanon, 1967), one of the most original and influential voices of the artistic scene of Middle East.

Since 1989, Walid Raad has dedicated himself to The Atlas Group (1989-2004), an art project that concentrates on the Lebanese wars of the past few decades. With his project, Raad created a number of documents (films, videotapes, notebooks, photographs) that he attributed to various imaginary individuals or organizations. Raad’s works engages how “certain events may have been lived but not experienced,” and his documents attempt to fill this gap (even if in fiction). As such, his works consider how events of physical and psychological violence may be documented and their histories written.

In 2007, Raad launched his ongoing work Scratching on Things I Can Disavow. With this new project, Raad has been concentrating on the emergence of vast new infrastructures for the arts in the Arab world, with particular focus on the emergence of large museums in the Persian Gulf: Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, among others. Raad’s artworks address how “Arab art” has been affected, materially and immaterially by the various conflicts that have devastated the Middle East in the past few decades. And moreover, he considers how the emerging new infrastructures hint at but also overlook these subtle and not-so-subtle changes.

For Fondazione Volume!, and expanding on his current ongoing research, Walid Raad has conceived Yet Another Letter to the Reader. This project follows Postscript to the Arabic Translation which was presented in Aishti Foundation’s storage space just outside of Beirut in 2015 and Another Letter to the Reader, recently presented at XI Biennial of Gwangju.

More than thirty crates – normally used to carry and/or store works of art – come together to build walls and rooms, turning Volume! into a real and an imaginary storage place. A place that might have been inhabited by a restless painter who, as a contemporary Frenhofer, plunges his brushes in colors, lines, and forms, not for the creation of the Unknown masterpiece, but to “try to make available again (and for the first time)”, as Raad has said, works of art that have been affected with an invisibility. Raad’s crates are like membranes whose surfaces hold paintings. They seem to be displayed arbitrarily, linked only by the fact that they “reproduce” artworks painted by “Arab” artists. It is also clear that his surfaces may not necessarily correspond to the crates’ contents, bringing forth questions about the relations between the crates’ outside and inside, between container and contained. In this mnemonic and visionary labyrinth, fragments of Arab artworks emerge: Huguette Caland (Lebanon, 1931), Shakir Hassan Al Said (Iraq, 1925), Ibrahim el -Salahi (Sudan, 1930), Marwan Kassab Bachi (Syria, 1934), Inji Efflatoun (Egypt, 1924), Jafar Islah (Kuwait, 1946), Hamid Nada (Egypt, 1924), Hassan Sharif (Dubai, 1951), Khalil Gibran (Lebanon, 1883). These fragments, like pieces of a puzzle, are now gathered. They seem to have found a unity and a resting spot in Rome. But they may disperse again at any time.
Walid Raad was born in 1967 in Chbanieh (Lebanon), he lives and works in Beirut and New York, where he is Professor of Art in The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

In 2015, Raad’s work were featured in a mid-career survey exhibition in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and Mexico City’s Jumex Foundation. His other solo exhibitions include: MADRE in Naples in 2014, Zurich Kunsthalle and the Bildmuseet in Umea in 2011, the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2010, the Museo Nacional-Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como in 2009, the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City in 2007, and the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Banhof in Berlin in 2006.

Walid Raad participated in the Gwangju Biennale in 2016, the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015, the Biennale of Sao Paulo in 2014. He also participated in Documenta 11 and 13 in Kassel in 2012 and 2002, the Biennale of Sydney in 2006, at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and the Whitney Biennial in 2000 and 2002.

Image Credits 1––6 Photo by Federico Ridolfi. Courtesy Fondazione Volume!, Rome.