Iraqi born artist Wafaa Bilal is an assistant professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has exhibited and lectured world-wide, promoting awareness of the situation of the Iraqi people and stressing the importance of peaceful conflict resolution. Bilal’s 2007 dynamic installation, Domestic Tension, placed him on the receiving end of a paintball gun that was accessible online to a worldwide audience, 24 hours a day. The month-long piece spurred on-line debates and intense conversations. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time” and named him Artist of the Year in 2008. Newsweek’s assessment was “breathtaking.”. In the face of a war that stretches on, the 2004 deaths of his brother and father and the violence in his own history, Bilal nonetheless seeks to imbue his audiences with a sense of empowerment and hope. In fall 2008 City Lights published “Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun,” about Bilal’s life and the Domestic Tension project. In 2009 Booklist named it a top 10 arts books of the year. In the Spring 2010 ArtFourm named his show Agent Intellect among the best in the northeastern region. His spring 2010 project And…Counting used tattoo as a medium to represent Iraqi and American casualties in the war, creating dialogue around the invisibility of Iraqis killed in the war.
Year(s) Awarded: 2010
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