My Neck Is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines – Walid Raad

Lebanese War Photographer Walid Raad and The Atlas Group created a work called “My Neck Is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines” which is part of a more long-term project from them.

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“…their lecture-performances, photo and video installations, documents, and artifacts deals with the 245 car bombings during Lebanon’s civil wars between 1975 and 1991. The installation consists of 100 boards with the recto and verso photographs showing the remains of the explosions, particularly the cars’ engines. The documentary nature of the photographs and their presentation as well as the precise information about dates and origins are supposed to invoke their character as testimonial and proof, but at the same time seem well-suited for questioning the authority and authenticity of contemporary historiography, for The Atlas Group strategically introduces non-authentic material time and again to show how history is constructed in the context of cultural and political polarization.”

-(https://www.mumok.at/en/my-neck-thinner-hair-engines)

I found this project incredibly interesting because it explores such a specific part of the wars in Lebanon, car bombings specifically, and displayed them with archival newspaper and photographic resources. He mentions the political involvement, about how politicians would often stand by the remains of the cars in an effort to grab the readers focus and create a sense of “we did everything we could”, by being present and “involved”.

This project explores the boundaries of how the “he economic, political, and social history of Lebanon has been recorded, recalled, and ultimately understood.” (MoMa.org) This can translate and be applied to war photography and journalism in almost all instances. It is explained how readily the public is to accept photographs and any “documentation” official sources present to us, instead of questioning and being aware of how much stories and situations change.

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