Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World expands upon the research-based methodology of Raad’s The Atlas Group (1989–2004), the visual and performative archival project he has initiated to document the social, political, psychological and aesthetic conditions of the Lebanese wars (1975–1990/91). The new project marks a critical juncture in Raad’s practice, at once a departure from The Atlas Group while expanding its historical and theoretical reference.
Raad records the visibility (or invisibility) of modern and contemporary Arab art at a time when high-profile museum-building in the Emirates has led some to celebrate a Renaissance of sorts in the Gulf states. By way of quintessentially western aesthetics, Raad puts to the test our assumption of seeing something, or possibly nothing, when confronted with Arab art. An unemotional, though challenging test for our ‘ways of seeing’.
“Over the past few years, I have been fascinated by the emergence of new art museums, galleries, schools and cultural foundations in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Istanbul, Ramallah and Sharjah, among others. I am intrigued by the increased visibility of the makers, sponsors, consumers and histories of “Arab art,” and more so by the acceleration in the development of new infrastructures for the visual arts in the Arabian Gulf.„