Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wafaa Bilal

When trying to think of an artist with a Brechtian practice, I immediately thought of Wafaa Bilal. He visited ECU a few years back, and gave a talk about his project, "Domestic Tension," in which Bilal lived in a small gallery room for a month with a robotic paintball gun, which people online could use to shoot him. As a result of the project, he suffered mentally and physically, showing clear symptoms of PTSD and insomnia. One of the more memorable things he shared was that a group of people online chose to defend him from other shooters, by using the controls to divert the gun's shots. He discusses the project in a short video, and his website and a link to the project's daily video blog can be found by clicking here. A newer project, "... and Counting" (shown in the picture on the left) involved tattooing Iraqi cities onto his back in Arabic, along with a dot in red ink for every American soldier killed (5,000 total). Iraqi deaths were represented by dots in invisible ink. The project was meant to be a commentary on the lack of press or attention on Iraqi deaths, as well as a permanent memorial. The 24 hr tattooing process was filmed and could be seen live by viewers online. Make sure to watch the video on his site - the sound of the tattoo gun combined with the names of the victims being read is eerie and unsettling.

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