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Wafaa Bilal



Marisa Mazria Katz sat down with artist Wafaa Bilal in the studio in November 2011 just days after the 31st anniversary of the Iran Iraq War to discuss his newest piece.

Since seeking political asylum in the United States in 1992, Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal has gained international attention for his politically controversial, and often
physically risky artistic endeavors. One such project was Domestic Tension, produced in 2007. For the piece, Bilal moved into a studio in Chicago's Flatfile Gallery for a period of one month. He installed a camera inside the space and streamed live to the internet 24 hours a day. Bilal then invited viewers to fire
shots at him with a remote-controlled paintball gun. By day 20, Bilal was shot at over 40,000 times, and when the month was over, a total of 60,000 people from over 30 countries had taken aim at the artist. Bilal has said the piece was a way to honor his family living through the war in Iraq, as well as a brother killed in Najaf three years earlier.

A Call is Bilal's most recent project. For the piece he choreographed a performance commemorating the eight-year-long Iran Iraq war launched on September 22, 1980. The presentation featured around 80 performers standing silently for close to an hour inside the Aaran Gallery in Tehran, Iran. Bilal simultaneously streamed the performance live on to the walls of New York City's Whitebox Gallery.
 

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