The exhibition Atlas Group (1989-2004), Un Proyecto de Walid Raad (Atlas Group 1989-2004. A Walid Raad Project) is an archive project developed by Walid Raad (Chbanieh, Lebanon, 1967) between 1989 and 2004. Its aim is to research and document Lebanon's recent history, particularly during the war from 1975 to 1990. For the first time in Spain, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía offers the possibility of exploring a significant part of the works that comprise the Atlas Group project.
The Atlas Group archives are based in Beirut and New York and consist of a vast collection of visual, oral and written documents that deal with daily life during an historical period that is significantly marked by the traumas of the Lebanese Civil War. Some of these documents have been created by the artist himself, while others have been found, appropriated and given new meaning as part of a mechanism that calls into question research and documentation processes. The Atlas Group documents and reflects upon the structure and resolve of contemporary history, particularly censorship and the mechanisms that transform information into an historical narration with the obstacles involved in corroborating the cause and accuracy. Besides its aesthetic and conceptual worth, the Atlas Group project also advocates the consideration of how History can be recounted and organised as well as 'constructed' and 'fabricated'.
In the project, Raad compiles a transversal selection of installation documents in various mediums, performance, video and photography along with literary essays, arranging all of them in accordance with his scheme of classification that questions the authenticity of not only written, but also visual and audiovisual documents. The project looks at the limits between fiction and history as it recovers and archives seemingly banal and everyday situations and events that inhabit the memories of those that have lived through them; events that sometimes build memories and others that produce collective amnesia. That said, the artist does not resort to graphic images of war, but more its physical and subjective surroundings through images that have not previously formed part of the political and social history of Lebanon. Therefore, it is presented as an open-ended history that is in the process of being written before the viewer.