Walid Ra’ad (The Atlas Group)

The Atlas group is a project established in 1999 to research and document the contemporary history of Lebanon.One of our aims with this project is to locate, preserve, study, and produce audio, visual, literary and other artifacts that shed light on the contemporary history of Leanon.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 12.18.58 AM walid-raad-secrets-in-the-open-sea-plate-20-1994Secrets in the open sea
Category_File_Type_Plates: [cat. FD]_Secrets_Photographs_016 – 021
Media: Color photographs
Dimension: 111 х 173 cm
Date: 1994
Attributed to: Anonymous

Secrets in the Open Sea consists of 6 large photographic prints that were found buried 32m under the rubble during the 1992 demolition of Beirut’s war-damaged commercial districts. The prints were different shades of blue and each measured 110x183cm. The Lebanese government entrusted the prints to The Atlas Group in early 1994 for preservation and analysis.

In late 1994, The Atlas Group sent the prints to laboratories in France and the United States for technical analysis. Remarkably, the laboratories recovered small black and white latent images from the prints, and the small images represent group portraits of men and women. The Atlas Group was able to identify all the individuals represented in the small black and white prints, and it turned out that they were all individuals who had been found dead in the Mediterranean between 1975 and 1990.

The Atlas Group published its findings in a report in December 1996. In the report, no determination was made about the size of the large prints nor about their colour.

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I Only Wish That I Could Weep
1996-2003 | Video, mute | 7’36”

This ‘document’ is attributed to a Lebanese Army intelligence officer, Operator #17, who was assigned to monitor the Corniche, a seaside boardwalk in Beirut. From 1996 onwards, and for some unknown reasons, the officer decided to videotape the sunset instead of his assigned targets. The videotape was donated by Operator #17 to The Atlas Group in 1998.