We hear about them often; there is visibility in our culture when it comes to soldier casualties in Iraq, but civilian casualties remain largely invisible — in the media at least, but not in life. Iraqi performance artist Wafaa Bilal is planning to literally turn his body into a permanent work that will have him making these casualties painfully visible, and he will carry the legacy of civilian deaths in Iraq with him the rest of his life. In effect, Bilal already does this, having lost his brother to a checkpoint missile in 2004. Starting at 8pm on March 8th at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in NYC, Bilal will begin the first 24 hours of …and Counting, where he will get tattooed for each American and Iraqi civilian casualty, film the process, and is endeavoring to livestream the performance. Bilal’s artist statement reads:
…and Counting addresses this double standard as Bilal turns his own body – in a 24-hour live performance — into a canvas, his back tattooed with a borderless map of Iraq covered with one dot for each Iraqi and American casualty near the cities where they fell. The 5,000 dead American soldiers are represented by red dots (permanent visible ink), and the 100,000 Iraqi casualties are represented by dots of green UV ink, seemingly invisible unless under black light. During the performance people from all walks of life read off the names of the dead.
Also, Bilal is asking each visitor to donate $1 which will go to the group Rally for Iraq, to fund scholarships for Americans and Iraqis who lost parents in the war. Based on official numbers of casualties, one dollar for each would mean $105,000 in scholarship money.
When: 8pm March 8 to 8pm March 9, 2010
Where: Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts
323 W39th Street 5th Floor NY, NY 10018