Abstract of the essay “Labyrinth and Rhizome: On the Work of Walid Raad.” in: Stedelijk Studies 7, 2018
Walid Raad’s works, as this essay illustrates, is organized into iterating chapters, prefaces, drafts, or footnotes. Altogether, they perhaps ultimately form the type of book that Deleuze and Guattari might have had in mind: a disassembled, scattered collection of ever-expanding thoughts, documents, and narratives. Its components are interconnected, at times leading to dead ends, only to arise again with a different trajectory. Similar to the operations of a rhizome, Raad’s works expand, multiply, and disconnect, as the projects’ delimitations are fluid and the images, narratives, and impulses within them are interconnected and strive against identification. The bodies of work have an entangled yet disconnected structure, echoing that of a rhizome.
The constant flux of images and narratives in Raad’s work provokes new stories that reflect on the construction of history, without cutting off the nexus to the past or limiting future ways of speaking and writing. This essay does not set out to illuminate and disentangle the threads tracing through his work. Instead, Raad’s work is construed as a perpetuation or intensification of the concepts of the labyrinth and the rhizome, which manifest throughout his practice and pay tribute to the complex temporalities of the contemporary world. Crucially, Raad does not merely mimic disorientation, fragmentation, and competing outlooks on the public sphere, but has established a style of image-making and narration that provides alternatives to the ostensibly factual, yet still arborescent public discourse.
– You can read and download the full essay here.