Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Sunday, Y.C. told me about this project happening in Chicago. The artist Wafaa Bilal, is running a interactive performance piece - Domestic Tension. When she first told me about it, I burst into tears of horror and then excitement at the brilliance of Bilal's work. He recreated his living room inside the FLATFILEgalleries in Chicago. Here is a description from his site, crudeoils.us:

Many of Bilal’s projects over the past few years have addressed the dichotomy of the virtual vs. the real. He attempts to keep in mind the relationship of the viewer to the artwork, with one of his main objectives transforming the normally passive experience of viewing art into an active participation. In Domestic Tension, viewers can log onto the internet to contact, or shoot, Bilal with paintball guns.

As an Iraqi, Bilal is no stranger to the ravages of war. But it's something altogether overwhelming to consider the reconstruction of a war zone in an art gallery. Not as a passive space, but as an active space of engagement with what he has constructed as well as with the larger world via the internet. On the first day of the project, over 1000 people paintballed him. There are paintball traces all over his "living room"; clear evidence of the attacks. He just lost his brother in Iraq to U.S. gunfire; is this a healing process? Does this piece alleviate guilt at being here in the U.S.? I know it's more than that, but I'll be really curious about his journal/log of the process for him as an artist. I wonder do people regret paintballing him after they've done it, or do they go back for more? What are the lengths of human cruelty? Apparently, he has not been able to sleep through the night on his bed, either. Too many shots. Are there more or fewer rounds of paint than bullets in Iraq? Will we examine ourselves through this process? Or is it another video game? Will a common sense of humanity triumph over racism?


On a similar note, tomorrow I am starting a performance writing project, tentatively titled "Written on the Body". For 100 days, I'm having people write words on my body. One word each day. Different person each day, no repeats. I'll be photographing each word and posting it on the internet over the course of the project, along with my journal of the experience. I'm curious to see all that comes out of it.

Anyway, I'm out.


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