Walid Raad, Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut 1994). Installation view, Audain Gallery, 2017. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Walid Raad
Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut 1994)  

October 12 - December 9, 2017
Audain Gallery

Walid Raad's work engages how forms of violence affect bodies, minds and culture. Moreover, it queries the instability of documents, the role of memory and narrative in conflict discourses, and the construction of histories in the face of ongoing catastrophe. Raad's practice includes photography, video, sculpture, and performance, and relies on formal and conceptual conventions borrowed from investigative journalism, documentary, narrative fiction, and comedy.

Raad's Sweet Talk is an ongoing set of self-assigned photographic commissions that look at the city of Beirut through thousands of negatives and digital files produced since the mid-1980s. Since the end of the Lebanese wars (approximately 1975-1991), Beirut's ravaged downtown has been under reconstruction. In 1994, a Lebanese company for the development of Beirut Central District was established, launching the largest urban redevelopment project of the 1990s. 

The works in Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut 1994) present images - preserved referents - from Raad's self-assigned commissions to consider the persistence of ruins and effects of the war through the city's redevelopment. The works at the Audain Gallery present Beirut as shifting and transitory, rising and falling. They unfold, double and mirror to reveal images of a city that is haunted psychologically and materially. In theorist/artist Jalal Toufic's words, ruins are "places haunted by the living who inhabit them"; they are "anachronistic", "resist the passage of time", and point to a "labyrinthine temporality". Sweet Talk offers a way to think through to Vancouver's continuous expansion that elides its traditions pre-city. Raad undertook research in Vancouver as part of his 2016 SFU Audain Visual Artist in Residence. 

Raad was born in Chbanieh, Lebanon and works in New York where he is Professor of Art in The Cooper Union. Solo exhibitions include the Louvre, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kunsthalle Zurich; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. His works have been shown in Documenta, Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Sao Paulo Bienale, Istanbul Biennial, and Homeworks. He is a member of the Home Workspace Program in Beirut and The Gulf Labor Coalition.

Curated by Melanie O'Brian. Co-presented by SFU Galleries and SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts where Raad is Audain Visual Artist in Residence (AVAIR) 2016/2017.


Audain Visual Artist in Residence program and SFU Galleries are hosting Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic, contemporaries whose art and writing are, almost uncannily, aligned. Raad was AVAIR in Fall 2016 and returns to present his exhibition in Audain Gallery, while Toufic will present a series of lectures and screenings, his first in Canada. The works of Raad and Toufic destabilize narratives of history by way of fictive philosophical and logical constructions which fold time. Each artist's work engages a divergent range of topics, but repeatedly returns to query the history of Lebanon and its civil wars.

Walid Raad in Conversation with Jayce Salloum on Beirut
Tuesday, October 10, 7pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Center

Walid Raad Opening Reception
Wednesday, October 11, 6 - 9pm
Audain Gallery

Walid Raad Artist Talk
Wednesday, October 11, 7 - 8pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Center

Scrivener's Monthly: Jalal Toufic on "The Dancer's Two Bodies"
Thursday, October 12, 7pm
Western Front, 303 E. 8th Ave

Screening and Discussion of a Trilogy of Videos by Jalal Toufic and Graziella Rizkallah Toufic
Saturday, October 14,  8pm
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema

Jalal Toufic on "The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster" 
Tuesday, October 17, 7pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Center

Book Launch and Talk for Jalal Toufic's What Was I Thinking (Sternberg Press, 2017)
Wednesday, October 18, 3pm
Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

Exhibition Tour with Curator Melanie O'Brian in Dialogue with Art Historian Jeff O’Brien 
Saturday, November 18, 2pm
Audain Gallery

Part of the Downtown Vancouver Gallery Tour with the Contemporary Art Gallery at 3pm.

Screening of Jayce Salloum's This is Not Beirut (There Was and There Was Not), 1994 and Walid Raad and Jayce Salloum’s Talaeen a Junuub (Up to the South), 1993
Wednesday, November 22, 7pm
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema


Jalal Toufic is a thinker and a mortal to death. He was born in 1962 in Beirut or Baghdad and died before dying in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois. He was most recently a participant in the Sharjah Biennial 11, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, Documenta 13, Art in the Auditorium III (Whitechapel Gallery) and Six Lines of Flight (SF MOMA). In 2011, he was a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD.

Jayce Salloum has worked in installation, photography, video, performance and text since 1978, as well as curating and coordinating a vast array of cultural projects. He lives and works in Vancouver on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land. His practice exists within and between the personal, quotidian, local and the trans-national. It aligns with social and political struggles through an intimate subjectivity and discursive challenge by engaging the personal, reconsidering notions of identity, community, history, boundaries, exile, the nation/state, and resistance.

Jeff O'Brien is an art historian completing his PhD at UBC, where he is also a Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. His research explores the work of contemporary artists who, in response to the protracted 1975-1991 civil war(s) in Lebanon and al-Nakba in Palestine, construct counter-archives to make visible disappeared and displaced populations.

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