Walid Raad. Index XXVI: Red. 2010

Raad’s work displays the names of painters and sculptors in white vinyl letters against a white wall, provided to him by artists of the future via telepathy.  The work also depicts Raad’s two year research period of the artist Johnny Tahan, whose name he originally misspelled and was corrected by a dancer whom used red spray paint to mark the error. Raad pins inkjet prints of Tahan’s work, newspaper clippings on the artist, postcards and the file folder (where is seems he kept all his research and documentation) above Tahan’s name on the wall.

Raad first attributes his initial misspelling of Tahan’s name to the “noise” that accompanies the transmission of telepathic signals.  His choice, as the creator of this work, to ‘research and check his sources’ to ensure he was producing a work that was telling a narrative he chose.  As artists, we must be responsible in choosing our medium, intention, and execution of our works. By the same token, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to question and validate the information and images that are given to us via various forms of communication and technologies.

In his writing about the works on view, Raad speaks of an effort to:”define, sort, and stitch ‘Arab art’ along three loosely silhouetted nodes: ‘Islamic”, ‘Modern’ and ‘contemporary.” Receiving the names of these artists via telepathy, as opposed to gathering names from research in art journals and other outlets comments on the limitations of the news, media and popular culture to provide society, or its consumers, with a holistic picture.  In this case we, the consumers of news and other media often received and continue to receive narratives of political or military conflict about the Arab world.  Through the works in this exhibition, Raad begins to create an additional narrative for consumers.

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