Project Space / Raja'a Khalid
Southeast to Armageddon
October 30 - December 5, 2013
The Third Line welcomes back Raja'a Khalid in the Project Space with her exhibit Southeast to Armageddon – a small selection of images from the Middle East chapter of her ongoing 'Minor Histories Archive’ project. With an intention to question the objectivity of certain public documents, this body of work focuses on how the discovery of Middle Eastern oil in the 1930s was depicted in popular Western press at the time, and the American perception of Gulf oil companies in the forties and fifties.
The photographs in Southeast to Armageddon acquire a type of bizarre topical relevance with the artist’s retrospective investigation. They demand an ironic distance from the viewer to force him or her into asking how the term ‘Arabian’ functioned in the American mass consciousness, following the discovery of oil. The publications photographed here were for a very specific, western audience, and they are pedagogical to that end. Seen today, however, they make explicit that which has already been implicit in the relationship between the Middle East and the West, and raise questions about the highly problematic politics of representation at work in the original documents.
The answers, if these photographs can provide them, will be neither clear nor complete. In fact the artist anticipates for Southeast to Armageddon to be troublesome and somewhat jarring. With that she aims to dismantle any myths about the so-called ‘simplicity’ or ‘transparency’ of the photograph or the written word, reaffirming Walter Benjamin’s assertion that all cultural documents are inherently records of ‘barbarism.’