Walid Raad continues his sly and destabilizing interventions in the exhibition space at Paula Cooper Gallery. By means of wall texts, the artist produced fictional personages and histories to immediate the viewer’s contemplating about the a variety of parts on screen, essentially shaping how the illustrations or photos will be read. As usually, Raad reminds us that grand narratives are regularly subjective, and usually veer much more closely to fantasy or outright fabrication than we are eager to acknowledge.
Epilogue II: The Constables, 2021, presents a suite of images depicting the backs of paintings that we are told ended up learned guiding a team of unidentified aged-grasp canvases acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The work’s title and imagery counsel the cloud scientific studies of English painter John Constable, whose surname is also the British term for a police officer. And the paintings’ noticeable stretcher bars connect with to brain the bars of a jail mobile: a visible barricade that retains the viewer at a eliminate. Raad’s wall text discusses this impediment to observation, claiming that “Abu Dhabi has forbidden any individual from hunting at the paintings’ fronts” and has banned show of the objects totally, only allowing these curious pictures to be viewed.
Symbols of imperial electricity and prestige are also examined in the pest-infested treasures of Epilogue: The Gold and Silver, 2021, featuring ten pics of elaborate goblets and animal collectible figurines. A precise invertebrate gathers in numbers on the surface of each individual antique ornamental object ants crawl above a golden goat, when slugs encroach upon a tarnished swan. These aristocratic baubles are introduced small, reworked into habitats for vermin.
The luminous video set up Comrade leader, comrade chief, how pleasant to see you, 2022, is just one of the most highly effective items listed here, as it turns giants of world politics—such as Yasser Arafat and Margaret Thatcher—into paper dolls (quite pretty much) who stand right before projections of colossal waterfalls. Right here, Raad humorously factors out that even the biggest and most essential figures of history are nothing in the encounter of nature’s mighty, overpowering powers.