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A Method in Madness

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Abstract:

This article discusses the concept of truth that emerges in Walid Raad's Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (2001). The mediation of images in the construction of historical knowledge is foregrounded by Raad through a variety of representational strategies such as the use of video noise, theatrical re-enactment and digital manipulations. Importantly, in the artist's practice representation is not seen as an obstacle to the achievement of truthful historical knowledge as images are viewed as part and parcel of the real itself and as an essential means by which to reconstruct the past. The article argues that Raad's work articulates a post-Freudian concept of truth that challenges the empiricism of conventional documentary as well as the postmodern relativism of writers such as Baudrillard. The article also investigates the genesis of Raad's work, its precedents and the importance of Jalal Toufic's writings for understanding the artist's practice.

Keywords: Atlas Group; Bachar; Paolo Magagnoli; Rancière; Toufic; Walid Raad; contemporary Arab art; documentary; mock-documentary; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09528822.2011.573316

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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