Shira Service, Walid Raad, Part 1, Chapter 1, The Atlas Group (1989-2004), 2009, 2016

The following text and imagery was presented in an artist's talk by Shira Service as part of the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center's 2016 Interlude program.

I woke up out of a dream this morning thinking I contacted Walid Raad about exhibiting a work of his in the new media show I'm curating and directing. I don’t exactly recall what the dream was- I only know that it called on a presumption in me that I had already done this thing. And what a great idea I had dreamed up. While still sitting in bed, dreamed reality drew itself apart from lived reality, and I started seeing that what I did in my dream should be acted out in lived reality. But I figured I couldn’t have gotten a hold of Walid if I tried, even though he was my thesis instructor at Cooper Union less than 2 years ago (I’ve contacted him a few times since without any word back- he’s kind of a big deal in the art world). Anyhow, I continued on with my day, and as I’m sorting through applicants' work, it hit me with a start: if I want his work in my show, I have to put his work in my show. I must copy his work, as closely as I can, replicating the original. Not to engage in fraudulence, but to honor the original work, in order that my replica will express the same process and body of ideas that Walid’s original has expressed, and present it under a slightly new name which communicates this shift/replication precisely. Rather than this title card text, “Walid Raad, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 139: The Atlas Group (1989-2004), 2008.”, the work will have this title card, “Shira Service, Walid Raad, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 139: The Atlas Group (1989-2004), 2008, 2016.” I won’t undermine his artistic authority, because I will directly reference his work and title by name. Whatever Walid’s selling price is for Part I, Chapter 1, Section 139: The Atlas Group (1989-2004), will be the price point for my work, Walid Raad, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 139: The Atlas Group (1989-2004), 2008, plus an additional 35% added to fulfill the requirements of my gallery’s* commission standards, and I will forward all of the originally quoted selling price directly to Walid in the case of a purchase. This way we all win: he can get his sale, his work is shared and therefore has a greater effect on the world through a higher level of accessibility, and I act as a conduit of his meaningful art while supporting his pocket, adding to his status, and expanding his artistic effectiveness.

(*The Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery is the gallery hosting the Mux: Asheville 2016 Video Art Festival and is the gallery referenced here.)

Shira Service

January 2016


This text was revised by the author on 13 February, 2018