JULY 17 AT 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Artist Wafaa Bilal will visit NOMA to interpret his interactive installation 168:01 in the exhibition Bodies of Knowledge. The work comprises a large bookshelf filled with blank, white books which symbolizes the burning and looting of libraries in Baghdad during the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Museum visitors are invited to transform the shelves from austere white to color by donating a book that will be shipped to the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad at the closing of the exhibition. In exchange for a new book (for sale in the Museum Shop) visitors may take home one of the white volumes, which are meant to serve as a reminder that across the globe many people are denied equal access to knowledge.
Wednesday admission is free to all Louisiana residents. Wednesday activations will be hosted by Kristina Kay Robinson.
Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal, an Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, is known internationally for his on-line performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics. For his 2007 installation, Domestic Tension, Bilal spent a month in a Chicago gallery with a paintball gun that people could shoot at him over the Internet. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time” and named him 2008 Artist of the Year. Bilal’s work is constantly informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously in two worlds—his home in the “comfort zone” of the U.S. and his consciousness of the ‘conflict zone’ in Iraq. Using his own body as a medium, Bilal continued to challenge our comfort zone with projects like 3rdi and …and Counting. Bilal’s most recent body of work, Canto III, premiered in a solo booth at the New York Armory Show in 2015 and went on to be shown in the 2015 Venice Biennale.
In 2008 City Lights published Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun, about Bilal’s life and the Domestic Tension project. He holds a BFA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and the MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar.