‘Letters to the readers’ by Walid Raad

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“Letters to the Reader is composed of 11 painted and laser-cut wooden panels representing fragments of wall or wall samples. At the bottom of each panel is applied marquetry that suggests parquet flooring patterns. The following text accompanies the installation:

While visiting the recently opened museum of modern Arab art in Beirut, I noticed with great surprise that most paintings on display had no shadows. At first I was beside myself, convinced that religious zealots had destroyed the shadows. But there was no debris. I pondered anxiously whether the shadows had lost their bearings or grip. But I suppose I should have known all along that the shadows were not destroyed nor lost: they had simply lost interest in the walls where they were made to hang. I decided to build new walls on which I carved shadow-like forms—magnets of sorts—in the hope they’d attract the restless shadows. Thus far, not a single catch.

With this project and for the past 8 years, Raad has been documenting the building of new infrastructures for the arts in the Arab world. His project has concentrated on the material and immaterial conditions that inflect, alter or color the experience of Islamic, modern and contemporary “Arab” art. Here, his works engage some familiar and peculiar architectural and display features (floors, shadows, frames, walls, views) he’s encountered in various historical and imaginary, current and future museums in the Arab world.”

Letters to the readers by Walid Raad at the Paula Cooper Gallery.


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