Walid Raad’s ongoing project titled Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World engages with the fast-paced development of a new infrastructure for the visual arts in cities such as Abu-Dhabi, Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Istanbul and Sharjah. Raad’s project considers the ideological, economic and political dimensions of this phenomenon to ask whether and how culture and tradition in the Arab world may have been affected by the upheavals of wars attributable to the local and international powers.
"Once built, what will the public see in these pharaonic infrastructures? What if there’s no tradition to go back to? What if the tradition is just a counterfeit or, at best, a fiction?" -Barbara Casavecchia
The work depicts what would be the architectural interior of one of the museum’s gallery spaces. The fact that the museum has yet to be built or even realized in developmental drawings forces a double-take, like the idea turning in on itself—the what if made visible before its conception. Cynically enough, in a context where cultural tourism has become an instrument of economic growth and power, hasn’t the form – the architecture and its advertisement - become more important than the content- in this case art - after-all?
“Over the past ten years, the Arab world has witnessed the emergence of a new infrastructure for the visual arts. Moreover, the planned construction of several large art museums and art schools in the Arab Gulf raises fascinating questions about how art will be conceived, made, distributed, and consumed in the future, not only in the Arabian Gulf, but in the Arab world in general, and beyond.„