Body cinema: …and Counting by Wafaa Bilal

April 19, 2010

Wafaa Bilal‘s concept of body marking as a subtly cruel marking and flesh ‘n’ blood IMing is one of the most authentic artworks that I’ve seen lately. Bilal directly and uncompromisingly brings forward political facts that are in constant repetition.

…and Counting‘ by Wafaa Bilal, Photo by Brad Farwell

About the performance:
Wafaa Bilal’s brother Haji was killed by a missile at a checkpoint in their hometown of Kufa, Iraq in 2004. Bilal feels the pain of both American and Iraqi families who’ve lost loved ones in the war, but the deaths of Iraqis like his brother are largely invisible to the American public.

…and Counting addresses this double standard as Bilal turns his own body – in a 24-hour live performance — into a canvas, his back tattooed with a borderless map of Iraq covered with one dot for each Iraqi and American casualty near the cities where they fell. The 5,000 dead American soldiers are represented by red dots (permanent visible ink), and the 100,000 Iraqi casualties are represented by dots of green UV ink, seemingly invisible unless under black light. During the performance people from all walks of life read off the names of the dead. (taken from the official site)

‘…and Counting’ by Wafaa Bilal

Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi American artist, a former professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently an assistant professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He is best known for his work Domestic Tension, a performance piece in which he lived in a gallery for a month and was shot by paintballs remotely by internet users watching from a webcam.

Wafaa Bilal, Virtual Jihadi (2008)

Wafaa Bilal created a computer based art piece titled Night of Bush Capturing: Virtual Jihadi which is a modified version of the game Quest for Bush, itself a “hacked” version of the popular commercial video game Quest for Saddam. While in the real game players target the ex-Iraqi leader, in Wafaa’s modified version the artist casts himself as a suicide bomber who gets sent on a mission to assassinate President George W. Bush.

He considers himself a political artist, dealing with war and oppression, and the Iraqi experience. He considers his main influence his experience growing up under the repression and violence of Baathist Iraq. He has also been inspired by his experiences of injustice and suffering in the United States. He has produced photographs and video installations that explore these emotions and conditions in hyperreality. (bio taken from wiki)

…and Counting by Wafaa Bilal (2010)

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