Walid Raad

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Walid Raad showing and discussing his works at the Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden, 2011

Walid Raad (Ra'ad) (Arabic: وليد رعد) (born 1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon) is a contemporary media artist. The Atlas Group is a fictional collective, the work of which is produced by Walid Raad. He lives and works in New York, where he is currently an associate professor at the Cooper Union School of Art.

His works to date include video, photography and literary essays. All, in one way or another, deal with the contemporary history of Lebanon with particular emphasis on the wars in Lebanon between 1975 and 1991. The work is also often concerned with the representation of traumatic events of collective historical dimensions; and the ways film, video, and photography function as documents of physical and psychological violence.[1] He is also a member of the Arab Image Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Raad received his BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989, where he had focused on photography and Middle Eastern studies.[2] He went on to complete his MA and Ph.D. in Cultural and Visual Studies at the University of Rochester in 1993 and 1996, respectively. He completed a dissertation based partly on writing by American and European hostages held in Lebanon in the 1980s during the country’s civil wars.[3]


Raad's video works include Talaeen a Junuub (Up to the South) (Salloum/Raad, 60 min., 1993), I Think It Would Be Better If I Could Weep (6 min.18sec., 2000) a collection of video shorts titled The Dead Weight of a Quarrel Hangs (Raad, 18 min., 1996–1999), and Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (Raad/Bachar), 18 min., 2000). Mixed-media projects include The Atlas Group: Documents from The Atlas Group Archive (1999 to the present), The Loudest Muttering Is Over: Documents from The Atlas Group Archive (2001 to the present), and My Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair (2004).

As a member of the Arab Image Foundation, Walid Raad has co-curated with Akram Zaatari the exhibition titled Mapping Sitting: On portraiture and Photography, an investigation in Arab photography and its relationship to questions of identity.

In June 2009, "The Atlas Group (1989-2004)" exhibition opened at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. Undertaken by Raad, the project aimed to research and document the contemporary history of Lebanon, specifically the years between 1975 and 1991. The exhibition - consisting of installations, videos, and photographs - attempts to draw awareness to the various ways in which history is told, organized, and sometimes manipulated.[4]

Raad has collaborated with Chinese American artist David Diao,[5] and their work was shown in fall 2012 at Paula Cooper Gallery.

The Atlas Group[edit]

Raad also founded The Atlas Group in 1999, an imaginary foundation whose objective is to research and document Lebanon‘s contemporary history. The Altas Group is primarily presented through lectures that include films, photography exhibitions, videos, and a variety of documents from the group‘s archives which contain authored, found, and newly produced files. More recently, certain sections of the archive have been the object of a number of installations in museum spaces.[6]

Under the name of Atlas Group, Raad made a series of books published by Walther König: a sort of imaginary collection of Dr. Fakhouri's found notebooks reports on Lebanon's 15 year civil war.

Gulf Labor[edit]

Raad is an organizer of Gulf Labor, a coalition of artists and activists organized to bring awareness to issues surrounding the living and working conditions on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island. In May 2015, he was denied entry to Dubai on grounds of "security". In response, the international committee for Modern and contemporary art museums, CIMAM, issued a statement of support of Raad.[7] Shortly after, leading curators from institutions in Asia and India as well as Europe and North America – including Glenn Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art, Nicholas Serota of Tate, and Doryun Chong of M+ – signed an open letter calling on institutions in the West that are working in the Persian Gulf region – the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Musée du Louvre, among others – to help lift the travel bans imposed on Raad and Ashok Sukumaran.[8] [9]


Raad's works have been exhibited at Documenta 11 (Kassel), The Venice Biennale (Venice), The Whitney Biennial (New York), The Ayloul Festival (Beirut, Lebanon), Home Works (curated by Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Lebanon) and numerous other festivals in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.


  • Hasselblad Award. 2011
  • Alpert Award for Visual Arts from the Herb Alpert Foundation. 2007 (Winner)
  • Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for 2007 (First Prize)
  • Rencontres d’Arles (2006), “Lauréat d’Aide au projet” (Help for a new project), Arles
  • Camera Austria Award (2005)[10]
  • Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival. 2002 (First Prize)
  • Vidarte 2002 Festival, Mexico City, Mexico. 2002 (First Prize)
  • Oneiras Film and Video Festival, Lisboa, Portugal. 2002 (First Prize)
  • Media Arts Awards, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. 2002 (Special Prize)
  • Black Maria Festival, 2002. (Juror Citation Award)
  • Video Ex, Zurich, Switzerland, 2001. (First Prize)
  • Oberhausen Film and VideoFest, Oberhausen, Germany, 2001 (Rhineland Award)
  • San Francisco International Film Festival, SF, CA, USA, 2000 (Certificate of Merit)
  • 5th Biennial of Arab Cinemas, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France, 2000 (Special Jury Prize)
  • VideoEx, Zurich, Switzerland, 2000. (First Prize)
  • 8th Biennial of the Moving Image, Switzerland, 1999. (Grand Prize)
  • Beirut Film Festival, Beirut, Lebanon, 1999. (Best Short Film and Best Scenario for a Short Film)
  • Black Maria Film and Video Festival, New Jersey, 1999. (Director’s Citation)
  • Missouri Video Festival, St. Louis, MO, 1998. (Award of Accomplishment Experimental)
  • New England Film and Video Festival, Boston, MA, 1997. (Best Conceptual Innovation Award)


External links[edit]