Walid Raad

Lebanon 1967

Installation, Performance Art, Photography, Video Art


Walid Raad
Walid Raad
February 14, 2016
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

The Middle East’s art scene in an almost continual state of chaos and contradiction, halfway amidst collapse and rebirth. Thanks to its geographical position at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland, Lebanon, officially the Lebanese Republic, acts as a gateway to the region. Despite of the permanent threats of violence it appears that the Lebanese art scene remains dynamic. One of Lebanon’s most prominent artists is Walid Raad (Ra’ad) who works in video, installation, photography, performance and literary essays dealing with the contemporary history and cultural identity of his naïve country.

The Atlas Group (1989-2004), ”Lets Be Honest, the Weather Helped” 1998 - times
Walid Raad – The Atlas Group (1989-2004), Let’s Be Honest, the Weather Helped, 1998, photo credits Carré d’Art–Musée

Academic Training

The famous artist was born in 1967, eight years before a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon that lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in huge loss of human life and property. The years Walid lived surrounded by war became the main inspiration for his later work. The artist had to leave Beirut as a teenager in 1983 as the conflict between opposing factions became increasingly heated. He studied in the United States, focusing on photography and Middle Eastern studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Additionally, he earned his MA and Ph.D. in the Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.

raad’s solo exhibition - new works at the MoMA, New York
Walid Raad – solo show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2015 – 2016, photo credits © The Museum of Modern Art

The Atlas Group

Always dedicated, Raad has spent over two decades creating a unique body of work the offers multi-layered narratives on the recent history of Lebanon. His most famous work is The Atlas Group (1989-2004), a fictional foundation dedicated to researching and documenting Lebanon’s recent past. The artist took a serious and systematic approach to the accumulation of fictionalized works related to Lebanon’s recent history with an emphasis on country’s fifteen years of civil war. The Atlas Group explored the social, political, psychological and aesthetic consequences caused by the wars Lebanon had been involved in, and initiated many discussions about themes like experience and memory, authenticity and authorship, and how the perception of history can be changed.

Raad’s work engages with Lebanese history, with an emphasis on country’s fifteen years of civil war

Project The Atlas Group (1989-2004), ”Hostage - The Bachar polaroids” Plate II, 2001 - times
Walid Raad – The Atlas Group (1989-2004), Hostage – The Bachar Polaroids, Plate II, 2001, photo by David Huguenin, photo credits Carré d’Art–Musée

Scratching on Things I Could Disavow

In the past several years, Walid has worked on a project called Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World. Fascinated by the cultural developments in such cities as Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Cairo, Doha and Istanbul, Raad takes a critical look at the increasing enthusiasm for heritage and contemporary art in those cities and in Arab world in general, and explores the role of capitalism and globalization in dynamic program of investment in arts and cultural infrastructure.

Walid Raad is one of the founding members of The Gulf Labor Coalition or Gulf Labor, an organization composed of international artists working to ensure that migrant worker rights are protected during the construction of iconic cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island located near the coast of Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

raad’s solo exhibition - new project 2014, installation view - new times
Walid Raad – solo show at Carré d’Art–Musée, 2014, installation view #1, photo by David Huguenin, photo credits Carré d’Art–Musée

Exhibitions and Awards

The work by Wallid Raad has been on display in many prestigious museums and galleries around the globe. His solo exhibitions were held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museo MADRE, Napoli, Italy; the Louvre, Paris, France; the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon; and the Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, France, to name a few.

He has received a considerable number of awards for his work including Hasselblad Award (2011) granted to a photographer recognized for major achievements, Alpert Award for Visual Arts from the Herb Alpert Foundation in 2007, and the First Prize at the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival in 2002, among others.

The artist is a member of the Arab Image Foundation, an organization established in Beirut in 1997 responsible for tracking down, collecting, preserving and studying photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora. He published several books including Walid Raad (2015) and Walid Raad: I Might Die Before I Get a Rifle, Hasselblad Award 2011 (2012).

raad’s solo exhibition 2014, installation view museums - times
Walid Raad – solo show at Carré d’Art–Musée, 2014, installation view #2, photo by David Huguenin, photo credits Carré d’Art–Musée

Hailing from the small country involved in a bloody civil conflict, Walid Raad managed to draw attention to his art thanks to his vast, almost unimaginable talent. Over thirty years after he moved to the United States and found his place at the contemporary art scene, he continues to draw endless inspiration from his native country and the war he witnessed in his youth.

Amongst art career, he began a university teaching career in 1991 and is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Art at the Cooper Union, New York.

The artist is represented by Weng Contemporary.

Walid Raad lives and works in New York.

Featured image: photo credits © News of the Art World
All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2015Walid RaadMuseum of Modern Art, New York, USA Solo
2015Walid Raad. PostfaceMuseo MADRE, Napoli, ItalySolo
2015Screening Beirut: The Sea in the CityNicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum, Beirut, LebanonSolo
2015Gallery 3010Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, LebanonGroup
2015A Republic of Art-Frensh Regional Collection of Contemporary ArtVan Abbemuseum, Endhoven, The Netherlands Group
2015Istanbul Biennial 14Istanbul, TurkyeGroup
2015Too early, too latePinacoteca Nazionale Bologna, ItalyGroup
2015How to (...) things that don't existSerralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, PortugalGroup
2015Future LightMAK, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2015On Remote Control 1Lothringer 13 Halle, München, GermanyGroup
2014Walid Raad. PréfaceCarré d'Art, Musée d'art contemporain, Nîmes, France Solo
2014Sweet Talk: CommissionsUniversity of Contemporary Art, Amherst, MA, USA Solo
2014Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab WorldSao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2014Walid Raad. Preface to the First English EditionAnthony Reynolds Gallery, London, UKSolo
2014Marrakech Biennial 5Marrakech, MoroccoGroup
2014Here and ElsewhereNew Museum, New York, USAGroup
2013Art Basel Unlimited. Views from Outer to Inner CompartmentsBasel, Switzerland Solo
2013Walid Raad. Preface to the First EditionLouvre, Paris, FranceSolo
2013Walid RaadSfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, LebanonSolo
2013in progress. Werke aus der mumok SammlungMUMOK, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2013Homeworks 6Beirut, LebanonGroup
2013Aichi TiennaleAichi, JapanGroup
2013Homworks 6Beirut, LebanonGroup
2013A Different Kind of Order: The ICP TriennialInternational Center of Photography, New York, USAGroup
2013REALITÄT UND FIKTIONVilla Schöningen, Potsdam, GermanyGroup
2013Neue Galerie – neu gesehenNeue Galerie, Kassel, GermanyGroup
2013Views from Outer to Inner Compartments, Art Basel UnlimitedBasel, SwitzerlandGroup
2013DocumentPeninsula Arts, Devon, UKGroup
2012Scratching on Things I Could DisavowSfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, LebanonSolo
2012dOCUMENTA (13)Kassel, GermanyGroup
2012The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, PhotobookMuseum of Modern Art, New York, USA Group
2012Fremde überall - Foreigners everywhereJüdisches Museum Wien, Austria Group
2012Looking Back for the FutureKunsthalle Zürich, SwizerlandGroup
2012Ray: Making HistoryMMK Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, GermanyGroup
2012UnknownPaula Cooper Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2012Bleibender Wert? Haltbarkeit und Verfall kritischer Publizistik. Kooperation springerinKunsthaus Bregenz, AustriaGroup
2011Walid Raad - Hasselblad Award 2011Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden Solo
2011Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab WorldT-B A21, Vienna, AustriaSolo
2011Atlas. How to carry the world on one's back? Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2011Abstract Possible: The Stockholm SynergiesTensta Konsthall, Spanga, SwedenGroup
2011Wunder Kunst, Religion und Wissenschaft vom 4. Jahrhundert bis zur GegenwartDeichtorhallen Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2011Wild Sky, Edith-Ruß-Haus für MedienkunstOldenburg, GermanyGroup
2011Serious Games - Krieg, Medien ­ KunstMathildenhöhe Darmstadt, Germany Group
201110. Sharjah BiennialUAEGroup
2011The Louminous IntervallGuggenheim Bilbao, SpainGroup
2011Kunstenfestival des ArtsHalles des Schaerbeck, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2011Wiener Festwochen - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art ContemporaryVienna, AustriaGroup
2010Miraculous BeginningsWhitechapel Gallery, London, UK Solo
2010Festival d’AutomneParis, FranceGroup
2010Told-Untold-RetoldMathaf, QatarGroup
2010Alles anders Kunsthalle Wien, AustriaGroup
2009Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab WorldSfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, GermanySolo
2009The Atlas Group (1989-2004)Mueso Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, SpainSolo
2009Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in The Arab World 1Gallery REDCAT, Los Angeles, USASolo
2009Traum und WirklichkeitZentrum Paul Klee Bern, SwitzerlandGroup
2009Taswir - Islamische Bildwelten und ModerneMartin Gropius Bau, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2009Dark Side 2 - Fotografische MachtFotomuseum Winterthus, SwitzerlandGroup
2008Walid RaadSfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon Solo
2008I might Die Before I Get A RifleKunstverein Heidelberg, Heidelberg, GermanySolo
2008We Can Make Rain But No One Came To AskBell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, USASolo
2008Art Now in LebanonAmman, Jordan Group
2008UnknownStatens Museums for Kunst, Kopenhagen, DenmarkGroup
2008UnknownWalker Art Centre, Minneapolis, USA Group
2008Éclats de frontieresFrac Provence-Alpes, Côte d’Azur, FranceGroup
2008Lügen.nirgendsAusstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst Münster, GermanyGroup
2008Car CultureScottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Phoenix, USAGroup
2007We Decided to Let Them Say "We are Convinced" Twice (It was More Convincing this Way)Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2007Walid RaadTAMEO, Mexico-City, Mexico Solo
2007Walid RaadSfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon Solo
2007Walid RaadHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington, USA Solo
2007Walid RaadCulturgest, Lisboa, PortugalSolo
2007Cross-BorderKunstmuseum StuttgartGroup
2007Forschen und ErfindenFotomuseum Winterthur, SwitzerlandGroup
2007EXITSan Sebastian, SpainGroup
2007SYSTEM ERRORPalazzo delle Papesse, Siena, ItalyGroup
2006Walid RaadSfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Germany Solo
2006Walid RaadNational Galerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany Solo
2006Walid RaadConcordia Art Gallery, Kingston, Canada Solo
2006Walid RaadThe Kitchen, New York, USA Solo
2006Walid RaadLeonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal, CanadaSolo
2006We Decided to Let Them Say "We Are Convinced" TwiceHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, USASolo
2006Sydney BiennaleSydney, AustraliaGroup
2006under the same skyDet Nationale Fotomuseum, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
2006Camera WorkSan Francisco, USAGroup
2006Seventeen days of LookingMOMA, New York, USAGroup
2006Ah, les belles images!La Tôlerie, Clermont-Ferrand, FranceGroup
2006SnafuKunstalle Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2006UnknownMaison des Arts de Malakoff, Paris, FranceGroup
2005Walid RaadMuseum for Contemporary Art, Montreal, Canada Solo
2005Walid RaadFact, Liverpool, UK Solo
2005Walid RaadThe Kitchen, New York, USA Solo
2005I was overcome with a momentary panicAgnes Etherington Gallery, Kingston, CanadaSolo
2005We are fair people, we never speak well of one anotherAnthony Reynolds Gallery, London, UKSolo
2005Funny, how thin the line is: Documents from the Atlas Group ArchiveFACT, Liverpool, UkSolo
2005I feel a great desire to meet the masses once again, Homeworks IIIBeirut, LebanonSolo
2005Flight 405Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg and BeirutGroup
2004Walid Raad - LectureHouse of World Culture, Berlin, GermanySolo
2004Walid Raad - LectureCentre Pompidou, Paris, FranceSolo
2004Beirut - Ashkal Alwan, lectureBeirut, LebanonSolo
2004Kunsten Festival des Arts, lectureBrusselSolo
2004Walid RaadMuseum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia Solo
2004Walid RaadYORK University, Toronto, Canada Solo
2004The truth will be known when the last witness is deadPrefix Institute, Tornoto, CanadaSolo
2004Photo EspanaMadrid, SpainGroup
2004Venice BiennaleItalyGroup
2004Foto Triennale Esslingen, GermanyGroup
2004Taipei BiennaleTaiwanGroup
2004Ethnic MarketingCentre d'Art Contemporain Geneve, SwitzerlandGroup
2003Walid RaadLa Galerie, Noisy-le-Sec, FranceSolo
2003World Wide Video FestivalAmsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2003Laokoon 2003Kampnagel, Hamburg, GermanySolo
2003Mapping Sitting Exhibition, VideoBrasil, S&atildeo PaoloBrasilGroup
2003WitnessBarbican Art Galleries, London, UK Group
2003Die Sehnsucht des KartographenKunstverein Hannover, GermanyGroup
2002Documenta 11Kassel, GermanyGroup
2002Contemporary Arab RepresentationWitte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Group
2002UnknownPrinceton University Art Museum, Princeton, USAGroup
2002UnknownFondacio Tapies, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2002What A Tales of ImagesMemling Museum, Brugge, BelgiumGroup
2002UnknownAtlanta Center for the Arts, Atlanta, Georgia, USAGroup
2002Photographische Sammlung - SK Stiftung KulturCologne, GermanyGroup
2002Kunsten Festival des ArtsPalais de Beaux Arts, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2001Kunsten Festival des ArtsBrussels, Belgium Solo
2001Wiener FestwochenVienna, AustriaGroup
2000UnknownKunstWerke, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2000The Loudest Muttering Is Over: Documents from The Atlas Group Archive, Kunsten Festival de ArtsBrussels, BelgiumGroup