News — 17 Apr 2019

Walid Raad. Better be watching the clouds_Plate 0094 (Thatcher). 2000/2017. Pigmented inkjet print, 76,2 x 50,8 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut
Walid Raad. Better be watching the clouds_Plate 0094 (Thatcher). 2000/2017. Pigmented inkjet print, 76,2 x 50,8 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut

The Stedelijk Museum presents the first solo exhibition by the Lebanese-American artist Walid Raad (b.1967) in the Netherlands. In Let’s be honest, the weather helped he shares his perceptive, critical, politically engaged, and often playful perspective of the complexities of the Lebanese wars and the current boom of contemporary art in the Middle East. Raad works in a wide variety of visual media, complemented by performances and essays. The exhibit features photos, drawings, videos, and sculptures, including new work that will be on display for the first time.

Walid Raad’s oeuvre delivers sharp analyses of the historical, political, economic, and aesthetic aspects of war. His artworks concentrate on the Lebanese wars as well as the Middle East’s rapidly burgeoning art world. “For the most part, my work is about the effects of violence on bodies and minds, on culture and tradition.”

On view in each room are often entirely new combinations of series from Raad’s three major long term projects:

In The Atlas Group (1989-2004), Raad created stories and documents about the Lebanese wars of the past few decades. Borrowing from the genres of literary fiction and conceptual photography, Raad imagines documents, characters and events that could have existed in times of war. Taken as a whole, the material comprises an archive of sorts, one that holds significant meaning for Raad, who views his imaginary documents as potential artifacts for the writing of a new history. In his practice with The Atlas Group, Raad adopts the role of archivist presenting us with his finds. These stem from historical material that is filtered through his imagination and research in an attempt to reach some of the less visible effects of war.

Walid Raad. I want to be able to welcome my father to my house_July 31-5,1989. 1990/2018. Pigmented inkjet print, 50 x 64,6 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut
Walid Raad. I want to be able to welcome my father to my house_July 31-5,1989. 1990/2018. Pigmented inkjet print, 50 x 64,6 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut

Sweet talk commissions Beirut (1987–ongoing) is composed of various photo assignments. Beginning in the late 1980s, Raad starting commissioning himself to document Beirut’s changing urban landscape, its streets, buildings, and shopfronts. He concentrated on the neighborhoods where he lived, just on the margins of the urban battlegrounds. This project continued in the “post-war” as a grandiose new city center emerged. When asked about the project, Raad says, “In 1987, I committed myself to producing photographs in Beirut. I titled this commitment Sweet talk, as a reference to the city’s residents ‘sweet-talking’ themselves, by creating fascinating ways to live in a city that was under the constant threat of military assault, urban destruction and renewal.”

The theme of Raad’s third project, Scratching on things I could disavow (2007–ongoing), engages with how violence affects tradition and art in material and non-material ways. His attention falls on the rise of new infrastructures for the arts in the Arab world, with particular emphasis on the Gulf states. On the one hand, Raad addresses the struggle for soft power and prestige in today’s Arab world via the building of massive new museums such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, he explores how Islamic, modern or contemporary “Arab” artworks resist, adapt, or cloak themselves as they enter these new spaces.

Among the new works in the survey are Raad’s three sculptures titled, I feel a great desire to meet the masses once again _ VI, XVII, XXXIII. As Raad writes, “In 1975, at the beginning of the wars, most public monuments in Beirut were hastily disassembled and stored in unmarked crates. The crates were dispersed to various secure storage sites. Thirty years later, the crates were gathered and opened in the hope of reassembling the monuments. However, the lack of a breakdown and reassembly protocol resulted in the odd composition of new public works, three of which are on display here.”

The exhibition is organized by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The exhibition goes on view at Moderna Museet from 15 February–10 May 2020.

PUBLICATION
An artist’s book will be published on the occasion of the exhibition. The book highlights two of Walid Raad’s thoughtful and witty artworks. Better be watching the clouds concentrates on the local, regional and international political figures whose faces and names became fixtures in the Lebanese landscape; I want to be able towelcome my father to my house leans on diaries that Raad’s father kept throughout the wars. Raad present us with documents that seem to belong to some kind of archivist, a witness and a mediator. He proceeds from found photographs and other artifacts to create the documents that provoke his but also our imagination. Published in collaboration with Roma Publications. Graphic design by Roger Willems. Price c. € 35.

Walid Raad. Let's be honest, the weather helped_3 US, 1998. 2006. Pigmented inkjet print, 46,8 x 72,4 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut
Walid Raad. Let's be honest, the weather helped_3 US, 1998. 2006. Pigmented inkjet print, 46,8 x 72,4 cm. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut

ABOUT WALID RAAD
Walid Raad is an artist and Professor of Art at The Cooper Union School of Art (New York, USA), and Home Workspace Program (Beirut, Lebanon). Raad’s oeuvre includes the publications Walkthrough, The truth will be known when the last witness is dead, My neck is thinner than a hair, Let’s be honest, the weather helped, and Scratching on things I could disavow.

Raad’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Louvre (Paris), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Kunsthalle Zurich (Switzerland), Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), Festival d’Automne (Paris), Kunsten Festival des Arts (Brussels), and Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), among others. His works have also been shown at Documenta 11 and 13 (Kassel), Venice Biennale 2003, Whitney Biennial 2000 and 2002 (New York), São Paulo Biennale 2014, Istanbul Biennale 2015, Home Works I and III (Beirut), and numerous other venues, biennials, and museums worldwide.

Raad is the recipient of various grants, prizes, and awards, including the Aachener Kunstpreis (2018), ICP Infinity Award (2016), the Hasselblad Award (2011), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007), the Camera Austria Award (2005), and a Rockefeller Fellowship (2003), among others. 

Walid Raad. Les Louvres and/or Kicking the Dead, 2018. Still from Presentation. ONASSIS, Athens 2018. Photo Elina Giounanli
Walid Raad. Les Louvres and/or Kicking the Dead, 2018. Still from Presentation. ONASSIS, Athens 2018. Photo Elina Giounanli

CONVERSATIONS: IN CONVERSATION IN THE GALLERIES
Daily, 14:00–16:00
Walid Raad’s work engages with political, historic, and social themes—topics that are incredibly relevant today. But his work is also fairly abstract. To give visitors a chance to dig deeper into some of the artist’s key themes, the Stedelijk is organizing Conversations. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, a Stedelijk staff member will chat with visitors in the galleries, encouraging them to share their views, thoughts, and responses to Raad’s work. Conversations was devised in collaboration with the artist and involves staff at all levels of the organization—from intern to director, from education worker to security guard. The Stedelijk is a museum that welcomes everyone, so Conversations was created to give visitors a more interactive, personal museum experience.

WALID RAAD PERFORMANCE
Les Louvres and/or Kicking the Dead
May, June, August, and October
Walid Raad presents his most recent performance: a compelling blend of theater and art that interweaves historical fact with political, historical, philosophical, and aesthetic insight. In this performance, which Raad refers to as a “walkthrough,” the artist takes visitors on a special tour of his exhibition. His tour begins with a lecture-style PowerPoint presentation, followed by video screenings and fantastical stories about World War I, arts education, construction workers’ sweat, and the history of New York’s high buildings. Along the way, Raad also introduces a cast of characters, including a Vietnam veteran/World War I enthusiast, carpet restorers, and real estate tycoons, plus an array of sheikhs, princes, and emirs.
Tickets:                   order online (seats are limited)
Price:                       museum ticket + € 3
Location:                 gallery spaces
Language:               English
Length:                    80 minutes
Dates and times:   18 & 19 May / 13, 15 & 16 June / 22, 24 & 25 August/
                                 3 & 5 October (13:00 and 16:00);
                                 4 October & 23 August (16:00 and 20:00).
Please arrive on time. No one will be admitted after the performance has begun.

HOLLAND FESTIVAL
WILLIAM KENTRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH WALID RAAD
Friday, 14 June, 20:00–21:00
Walid Raad was a guest at the Holland Festival in 2007. We’re delighted to welcome him back, this year in conversation with South African artist William Kentridge. Both artists share a deep fascination with their respective home cities, Johannesburg and Beirut. These cities often appear in some form in their films, installations, animations, photos, and performances. On this evening, Kentridge and Raad will deliberate the quest for fitting forms of expression, the influence of violence on body and mind, and working with an alter ego.
Price:                       museum ticket + € 3
Location:                 Teijin Auditorium
Language:               English
Date and time:         14 June, 20:00–21:00

SUNDAY SEMINAR
Sunday, 6 October 2019, afternoon programme
On the occasion of the exhibition the Stedelijk Museum organizes an academic Sunday Seminar about the work of the artist.
More information will follow. 

Walid Raad. Sweet talk.commissions (Beirut 1994), 2018, video still. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut
Walid Raad. Sweet talk.commissions (Beirut 1994), 2018, video still. Courtesy the artist & Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg / Beirut

The exhibition Walid Raad – Let’s be honest, the weather helped is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund, which contributed to the exhibition through a Project Grant for Institutes and the Experimental Regulations, and by the International Collector Circle and Curator Circle of the Stedelijk Museum Fonds.

Exhibition organised by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Les Louvres and/or Kicking the Dead
By Walid Raad
Project management Celesta Rottiers
Technical direction Herman Sorgeloos

Co-produced by steirischer herbst in Graz, Art Center Buda in Kortrijk for
Gone West - NEXT Festival, HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin, Fast Forward
Festival / Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Festival d’Automne à Paris.

Support by Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Hamburg/Beirut), Paula Cooper Gallery (New York).

Thanks to Jack V Sturiano, Marcella Lista, Belal Hibri, SITU Studio, Christopher Kissoon, Raphael Fleuriet, Karolien Derwael.

Note to editors:
For more information, photographic copy, and interview requests, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum, +31 (0)20 – 573 26 56, pressoffice@stedelijk.nl.

Walid Raad – Let’s be honest, the weather helped will open together with the exhibition Welkom Today. The press preview for both exhibitions will be on Thursday, 16 May at 9:30 a.m. Walid Raad will be present and will offer a tour through the exhibition. RSVP via pressoffice@stedelijk.nl.