Narrator: Walid Raad, interviewed by the Museum of Modern Art in 2006.
Wald Raad: This work is one fragment from the project titled The Atlas Group. The Atlas Group seeks or produces documents, photographic, literary, or other, that shed light on the contemporary history of Lebanon. The archive is composed of numerous documents that are attributed to various characters. Some of the characters are even imaginary.
The character in question here is presented as a renowned historian who upon his death in 1993 donated notebooks, photographs, and films to The Atlas Group for preservation and display. These are images that he produced of himself in 1958 and 1959, during his one and only trip outside of Lebanon to Paris and to Rome.
The man is not only not looking at the camera. He is also not looking at the objects in front of which he is standing. I mean he is under the Eiffel Tower, and decides to pick up a pair of binoculars and look away. He is almost saying, "I am going to look away because I don't think history is here." And in a sense, giving us an opening to think about how to write the history of contemporary Lebanon.Should we look for it in the historical monuments and the ruins? Or should we look for it elsewhere?