November 25, 2008 - New Museum - Night School: Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic
November 25, 2008

Night School: Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic

Film still:
Alain Resnais
Hiroshima mon amour

Night School Public Seminar 10
Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic
The Withdrawal of Tradition
Past a Surpassing Disaster

Thursday, December 4, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 5, 3 p.m.
Saturday, December 6, 3 p.m.

New Museum
235 Bowery

New York, 

NY 10002


Led by Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic, this seminar series explores Toufic’s concept of “the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster,” which he first advanced in his books 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.” Raad and Toufic ask if and how one can record this “nothing,” as well as how to contribute to the resurrection of the withdrawn tradition—without this resurrection tradition becomes a counterfeit of itself.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.

For the first night, Walid Raad will speak about The Atlas Group, a fifteen-year project undertaken between 1989 and 2004, and about his current research about the history of modern and contemporary art in the Arab world. He will also introduce Jalal Toufic’s concept of “the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster,” and its relevance to his various art projects.

Days 2 and 3 will be dedicated to an introduction by Jalal Toufic of his concept of “the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster.” Toufic speaks about how the concept developed in his thinking with readings from his works Forthcoming and Oversensitivity, and clips from various films.

Suggested books and texts:
Jalal Toufic, “Credits Included,” Over-Sensitivity, Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1996, pp. 64-95.
—–, “Forthcoming,” Forthcoming, Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000, pp. 47-75.
—–, Distracted, 2nd ed., Berkeley, CA: Tuumba Press, 2003, pp. 82–92.

Night School is an artist’s project by Anton Vidokle in the form of a temporary school. A yearlong program of monthly seminars and workshops, Night School draws upon a group of local and international artists, writers, and theorists to conceptualize and conduct the program.

Walid Raad (b. Lebanon) is an artist and an Associate Professor of Art at The Cooper Union (New York, USA). Raad’s works include The Atlas Group, a fifteen-year project between 1989 and 2004 about the contemporary history of Lebanon, and the ongoing project titled Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. His books include The Truth Will Be Known When The Last Witness Is Dead, My Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair, and Let’s Be Honest, The Weather Helped.

Raad’s works have been shown at Documenta 11 (Kassel), the Venice Biennial, the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Homeworks (Beirut), and numerous other museums and venues in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Raad is also the recipient of the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007), and the Camera Austria Award (2005). 

Jalal Toufic (b. Lebanon) is a thinker, writer, and artist presently based in Istanbul. He 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 (2005), ‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins (2005), and Undeserving Lebanon (2007). His videos and mixed-media works have been presented in such venues as Artists Space, New York; ICA, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel; and the 16th International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) in a “Focus Jalal Toufic” program. He co-edited the special Discourse issue Gilles Deleuze: A Reason to Believe in this World, and edited the special Discourse issues Middle Eastern Films Before Thy Gaze Returns to Thee and Mortals to Death as well as the Review of Photographic Memory. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley; CalArts, Valencia, CA; DasArts, Amsterdam; and the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam; and he was a guest lecturer at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, in 2007. He is currently a Professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

All events are free with Museum admission but tickets are required. Tickets can be reserved online or at the Museum one week before the seminar’s start; a limited number of tickets will be available one hour before each event’s start. Tickets are limited, distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis, and must be collected prior to the event’s start time. Unclaimed tickets will be released promptly at the event’s start time. Please check individual events below for tickets and more information.

For tickets see

Museum as Hub is made possible by the Third Millennium Foundation.

With additional generous support from the Metlife Foundation. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum. Generous support also provided by the Charlotte and Bill Ford Artist Talks Fund.

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