The exhibition Cotton Under My Feet consists of a new corpus of works by Walid Raad, commissioned by TBA21 and specifically conceived for the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. With a practice that is often associated with historical fiction, Raad has created this new project around the genesis of the Museo Thyssen, its collection, archives, and the histories of their holdings. Intervening in various sites in the museum, the exhibition will open new interpretative spaces for mobilizing stories and premonitions around the collection. The artist presents imagined and hidden episodes, tangled connections, alternative conservation protocols, involving insects and nails, and forgotten figures and characters that appear in the museum's rooms throughout its journey through the history of Western art.
In Cotton Under My Feet, Raad explores different approaches to and representations of historical collective realities surrounding the acquisition of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection by the Spanish State. The exhibition unfolds as an imagined investigation around the historical events and conditions that concerned the sale, transfer, display, and storage of the artworks. Cotton Under My Feet becomes an exploration of several narratives, which expose to the visitor a broad range of images and narratives of the origin and future of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection and other large western and non-western art collections in the world. Raad will also lead a series of walkthroughs, itinerant lecture-performances that will take audiences onto a mesmerizing tour through the museum, leaving them confused as to what is truth and what is otherwise.