Walid Raad’s work explores the representation of war and other traumatic events through film, video, and photography. He is well-known for founding The Atlas Group, a foundation documenting the contemporary history of Lebanon. The collection of documents archived by the foundation is a mixture of found and constructed evidence whose authenticity, authorship and even date are always in question. In blurring the line between historical facts and constructed narratives, Raad investigates how history – and specifically violent historical events – is written and disseminated. In the words of a recent critic, the works “function not as emblems of fact or scraps of evidence to support the assertions of history, but rather as traces, as symptoms, as strange structural links between history, memory, and fantasy, between what is known to be true and what is needed to be believed.”1
The exhibition will include two series of photographs and a video piece investigating the contemporary history of war in the Middle East. We Decided To Let Them Say “We Are Convinced” Twice. It Was More Convincing This Way (1996), a series of 15 largescale photographs, is based on the Israeli Army’s invasion and siege of Beirut in 1982. That summer, the 15-year-old Raad took photographs of military activity in West Beirut. Recently reprinting the pictures from the original, now degraded negatives, he discovered that the images’ unusual discoloration, creases, and holes offered a disturbing but realistic representation of a broken world rendered flat by the series of catastrophes that had befallen it.
In the 1970s, Raad collected bullets and shrapnel in Beirut, carefully documenting the the bullets’ colors and photographing the sites of his findings. Lets Be Honest, The Weather Helped (1988) presents Raad’s black and white photographs with colored dots placed over the locations of bullet holes. The colors of the dots correspond to the colors of the bullets’ tips, which he later learned are codes devised by manufacturing countries to mark their cartridges.