Alter///scrinium. 10 Theses Of The Architecture. Exhibition Part 2011
Walid Raad. We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask
  • Director: Walid Raad

    Born in 1967 in Chbanieh (Lebanon). Lives and works in New York.

    Selected personal exhibitions:
    2010 — Walid Raad — Camera Austria, Graz
    2007 — The Atlas Group (1989-2004) — A Project by Walid Raad — Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich
    2005 — I Feel A Great Desire To Meet The Masses Once Again: A project by Walid Raad and The Atlas Group — Agnes Etherington Art Center, Kingston, Ontario

    Selected group exhibitions:
    2011 — Sharjah Biennial 10 — Plot for a Biennial — Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah
    2006 — 15th Biennale of Sydney 2006 — Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
    2002 — Documenta 11 — Documenta, Kassel

2007,  18 min.
Alter///scrinium. 10 Theses Of The Architecture. Exhibition Part

Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery and Artist

This videotape documents an imaginary collaboration between Yussef Bitar, the Lebanese chief investigator of all car bombings, and Georges Semerdjian, a respected and fearless photojournalist and videographer who, until his violent death in 1990, tirelessly chronicled the Lebanese war of the past three decades. The videotape focuses on diagrams, notes, videotapes and photographs produced by Bitar and Semerdjian about the bombing in the Furn Ech Chubak neighborhood of Beirut on January 21, 1986.

In 1999 Lebanese artist Walid Raad, who lives in the USA, created The Atlas Group project. It is an imaginary organization that studies and de- velops documentary archive of civil war in Lebanon of 1975. The conflict between Lebanese communities that initiated the war was aggravated by Israeli military intervention that was called “Peace for Galilee” and that turned the country into a permanent flash point. Raad used one of the fundamental avant-garde strategies, aesthetically forged archive, and offered an unusual way of reality reconstruction, partially lost, partially mythological. The artist created a critical field that gives vast opportunities for historic evaluation of militarism via unique and sometimes even sentimental aesthetic practice of visual analysis.

The Atlas Group project bore a lot of creations, from photos and video to installations and performance lectures, each of those being subtle, thor- oughly prepared research result based on creation of non-existing documents that have a certain authenticity potential in spite of historical logics. The videotape documents called We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask tell a story about multiple explosions in Furn Ech Chubak, Beirut residential district, using constantly changing visual images in a form of video collage. Modern city panoramic view, that now is declared a peace territory, crosses over with the pictures of explosions consequences and portraits of imaginary characters who took part in those tragic events.

By presenting the result of the military conflict the author uses original way of material culture representation where we can trace the marks of military madness. For instance, architecture of Beirut, that once had been a prospering city, was almost completely destroyed and is portrayed by the author via real documents of that traumatic experience. Bomb traces create new topography of the architectural landscape presenting an expressive picture of useless violence. The artist does not try to use unflattering practice of making a spectacle out of war horrors by showing human victims. Instead Raad uses things, explosion tortured cars and buildings, as if he does not trust human mind or known registration principles that could easily be reformed through different manipulations or even persuasion; he prefers detailed revelation of war consequences through epoch matter without useless words.