Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster


January 18, 2007
Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster
Walid RaadThe Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster


Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

Berlin 10249 Germany

T. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 90

F. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 85


Film still:

Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour, 1959

unitednationsplaza is pleased to present a seminar organized by Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

Wedensday, January 31st through Monday, February 12th, 2007

All sessions will take place from 7- 9 PM.

All are welcome. Admission is free but space is limited. To secure a seat, please register in advance. For further information, please contact Magdalena Magiera:


Led by Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic, this seminar will explore Toufic’s concept of the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, which he first advanced in Over-Sensitivity (1996) and then elaborated further in Forthcoming (2000). To detect this withdrawal, whether symptomatically or otherwise, one is well advised to look for it in messianic movements as well as in artistic and literary works: “With regard to the surpassing disaster, art acts like the mirror in vampire films: it reveals the withdrawal of what we think is still there. ‘You have seen nothing in Hiroshima’ [Hiroshima mon amour]. Does this entail that one should not record? No. One should record this ‘nothing,’ which only after the resurrection can be available.” We will ask if and how one can record this “nothing,” as well as how to contribute to the resurrection of the withdrawn tradition—without this resurrection tradition becomes a counterfeit of itself. The seminar will consist of a series of close readings of Toufic’s writings, to be complemented by screenings, and other presentations by invited writers, artists, and filmmakers whose works deal, directly or indirectly, with the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, the counterfeit, and the resurrection of art and tradition.

The seminar will include a special presentation by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.

Suggested books and texts

Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley, New York: Viking, 1998, pp. 88–95

Lynn Gumpert, Christian Boltanski, Paris: Flammarion, 1994

András J. Riedlmayer (principal Investigator), “Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992–1996: A Post-war Survey of Selected Municipalities,” 2002 download available at http://www.savingantiquities.org/pdf/BosHeritageReport-AR.pdf

Andras Riedlmayer, “Libraries Are Not for Burning: International Librarianship and the Recovery of the Destroyed Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina” download available at http://forge.fh-potsdam.de/~IFLA/INSPEL/61-riea.htm

Jalal Toufic, “Credits Included,” Over-Sensitivity, Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1996

Jalal Toufic, “Forthcoming,” Forthcoming, Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000

Jalal Toufic, Distracted, 2nd ed., Berkeley, CA: Tuumba Press, 2003, pp. 82–92


Andrei Tarkovsky, The Sacrifice, 1986

Andrei Tarkovsky, Michael Leszczylowski, 1988

Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962

F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, 1922

Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979; Lessons of Darkness, 1992

Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour, 1959, script by Marguerite Duras

Jean-Luc Godard, King Lear, 1987; Passion, 1982; and Histoire(s) du cinema

Akira Kurosawa, Dreams, 1990


Walid Raad Walid Raad is a media artist and an Associate Professor of Art in The Cooper Union (New York, USA). Raad’s works to date include mixed media installations, performance, video and photography, and literary essays. Raad’s recent works include The Atlas Group, a fifteen-year project between 1989 and 2004 about the contemporary history of Lebanon, with particular emphasis on the Lebanese wars of 1975 to 1991. Raad’s works have been shown at Documenta 11 (Kassel, Germany), The Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy), The Whitney Biennial (New York, USA), Homeworks (Beirut, Lebanon) and numerous other museums and venues in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. His books include The Truth Will Be Known When The Last Witness Is Dead, and My Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair. Walid Raad is also a member of the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut/New York, http://www.fai.org.lb ).

Jalal Toufic is the author of Distracted (1991; 2nd ed., 2003), (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film (1993; 2nd ed., 2003), Over-Sensitivity (1996), Forthcoming (2000), Undying Love, or Love Dies (2002), Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You (Post-Apollo, 2005), and ‘Ashura’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins (Forthcoming Books, 2005). His videos and mixed-media works have been presented internationally, in such venues as Artists Space in New York; Witte de With in Rotterdam; Fundaci- Antoni Tapies in Barcelona; and the 16th International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) in a “Focus Jalal Toufic” program. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, California Institute of the Arts, USC, and, in Amsterdam, DasArts and the Rijksakademie.

unitednationsplaza is exhibition as school. Structured as a seminar/residency program in the city of Berlin, it will involve collaboration with approximately 60 artists, writers, theorists and a wide range of audiences for a period of one year. In the tradition of Free Universities, most of its events are open to all those interested to take part. unitednationsplaza is organized by Anton Vidokle in collaboration with Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Martha Rosler, Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic, Nikolaus Hirsch, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Tirdad Zolghadr.

unitednationsplaza is made possible with generous support by e-flux and the Ford Foundation.


Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

Berlin 10249 Germany

T. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 90

F. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 85


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January 18, 2007

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