Wafaa Bilal | Canto III
Curatorial consultant to the artist
Presented by Lawrie Shabibi
Canto III is directly inspired by a tribute that the members of the Ba’ath party in Iraq planned in honour of their ruler, Saddam Hussein, at the height of his power: to propel a golden statue in his likeness into space to orbit Earth for all eternity. This absurd idea highlights the extremes the personality cult of Saddam Hussain reached before his downfall. This tribute never took place.
Bilal references this tribute in Canto III, juxtaposing the larger-than-life man who was used as justification for a U.S. war, with the everyday realities of the American men who fought that war. Specifically, Bilal will invite a selection of American war veterans who served in Iraq to assist with the artwork’s fabrication, for which they will be compensated at minimum wage. Through this action, the artist seeks to raise awareness of the neglect veterans face on their return home.
Artist’s rendering. Courtesy of Wafaa Bilal.