Walid Raad was born in 1967 in Chbanieh in Lebanon and now lives in New York. He is a founder member of the Arab Image Foundation and the Atlas Group, his fictional archive that focuses on the Lebanese Civil Wars of 1975–1992.
Through ‘lectures’ about the archive Raad raises questions about the representation of contested histories: ‘There is very little knowledge outside of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. So the specificity of Lebanon as a historical, geographical space is automatically lost.’ The archive compiles seemingly random material: video recordings of sunsets, photographs of mysterious donors, notes on the gambling habits of the Marxists and the Islamists. A History of Art in the Arab World can be seen as a conclusion to the Atlas Group: a catalogue of Raad’s project, designed as part of a larger catalogue of a newly visible ‘Art in the Arab World’
‘Sometimes it doesn’t really bother me that it is thought to be real. And then at other times, I’m a bit troubled by the confusion.’