Wafaa Bilal’s “third I”

   |  24 November 2010  |  AMA  |  Tweet  |  LinkedIn

New York, 24 November 2010. AMA.

Artist Wafaa Bilal installed a camera in the back of his head, all in the name of art.

Bilal will keep it for a year. It measures five centimetres and is less than twenty-five millimetres thick. According to the artist, the project should raise social, aesthetic, political, technological and artistic issues. For now, he refuses to reveal when the device was implanted or any other details.

He placed it at the back of his head as a symbol of what we can not see and what we prefer to leave behind. The camera captures the artist’s daily activities every minute, 24 hours a day, and the videos are subsequently transmitted to a museum.

The artist declared that his work will place the spotlight on groups that play with Arab stereotypes, like the video-game Quest Saddam.

In a recent performance entitled …and Counting, Bilal tattooed a map of Iraq on his back with no frontiers and a spot for each Iraqi and American victim. Bilal’s brother was killed by a missile at a check-point in Iraq in 2004 and he consequently decided to use his work to underline the lack of American interest in Iraqi victims. Spots symbolising Iraqis are made of an ultra-violet green ink, only visible under black light, while the Americans are represented by permanent ink.

Wafaa Bilal taught art at NYU. He is renowned for his interactive works and performances. The implant was commissioned by the new museum in Doha, Qatar. Entitled The 3rd I, it is part of the twenty-three works commissioned for the inauguration of the Mathaf, the Arab Museum of Modern Art on 30 December. The exhibition is called “Told/Untold/Retold”.

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