I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again

Premiére date1 Nov. 2006
Produced byThe Atlas Group
ExpressionsPerformance, Lecture, Documentary, Theatre, Biographical theatre, Information, Multimedia, Multidisciplinary
WebsiteThe Atlas group

About I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again

I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again by Walid Raad. Walid Raad presents a new contemporary mixed-media lecture-performance from New York, titled I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again, giving a hard-hitting indictment on the politics of the post-9/11 era (extraordinary rendition, illegal detainment) simultaneous with a nuanced reflection on whether contemporary art is capable of capturing lived experience in narratives and images that ring true to the psyche.

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    More about I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again

    Walid Raad worked with The Atlas Group Archive from 1998 to 2004. The project deals with the history of Lebanon, emphasising the wars from 1975 to 1991 in particular. I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again is a personal performance by a Lebanese artist living in USA. Among other things Walid Raad has found inspiration in his own experiences with the American justice system. The performance is a so-called lecture-performance one can shortly characterise as a staged lecture.

    In his presentation, Walid Raad utilises modern presentation tools and draws from theatre as well as visual arts. Such is the audience notified that any presentation in our time has strong theatrical elements.

    In November 2004, on his way back home to New York after a family visit in Rochester, Walid Raad was arrested on the airport and interrogated by the police and the FBI for several hours. When his luggage was unpacked, he was astonished what he had packed (photos, video cassettes, essays and books, account statements from the bank) and the circumstances placing him in this situation.

    To him, it is clear that the experience is the watered-down version of other, similar events, such as they were experienced by Khaled el-Masri, Maher Arar or Mamdouh Habib. Masri, for instance, was kidnapped in 2003 by Macedonian police, drugged and sent to Afghanistan, where he was attained, tortured and interrogated by investigating officers from USA, for later to be delivered to German authorities – believing that he has made it all up.

    This particular manner of kidnapping staged by authorities, called rendition, was first taken into use by CIA during the 90es. The past five years the volume has increased dramatically.

    The Lebanese media artist Walid Raad lives in New York, where he also teaches art at Cooper Union. He is an articulated analyst of the circumstances regarding long-lasting and diffuse warfare such as the one taking place in his country of origin, Lebanon. Raad is among other things known for his discreet and efficient equilibrium between fiction and historical facts in addition to an empathetic, audience-friendly use of humour in his performances. Raad’s work includes video, photography and essays. His projects have been presented on Documenta 11, the Venice Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, the Ayloul Festival in Beirut and a number of other festivals in Europe, the Middle East and Northern America. Besides being a founder of The Atlas Group, Raad is a member of Arab Image Foundation.

    I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once Again was presented through the network of BIT Teatergarasjen, Black Box Teater and Avant Garden.

    Source: BIT Teatergarasjen, autumn program 2006. 12.09.2010: http://www.bit-teatergarasjen.no/article/64