In 2007 I initiated an art project on the history of art in the “Arab world” titled Scratching on things I could disavow. I began the project at the same time that the establishment of new cultural foundations, art galleries, art schools, art magazines, art prizes, art fairs, and large Western­-brand or styled museums was accelerating in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Doha, Manama, Ramallah, Sharjah, and others. These material developments were matched by equally fraught efforts to define, sort, and stitch anew “Arab art” along three loosely silhouetted nodes: “Islamic,” “modern,” and “contemporary.” When viewed alongside the political, economic, social, and military conflicts that have and continue to consume the “Arab world” in the past few decades, such developments shape a rich yet thorny ground for creative work.

In this project, I concentrate on some of the stories, economies, forms, lines, volumes, gestures and colors I am encountering as I navigate in and out of these emerging infrastructures.

Walid Raad