Wafaa Bilal | The things I could tell…

16 July – 13 September 2015
Artpace, San Antonio, Texas

The things I could tell... is a new installation work by Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal. As an exploration of color therapy, the installation is part of ongoing responses by the artist to themes of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder particular as they relate to civilians and military personnel involved in the wars in Iraq.

From the artist

The idea for the light installation is based on a 9th-century Islamic scientist named Avicenna who used color as a tool to diagnose and treat illnesses. As a result, many psychiatrists and healers have used color as a kind of therapy. With this in mind, I’m offering the gallery space for people to explore their own emotional response to color. The colored glass figures are of Sadam Hussein; by making them miniature I am minimizing the fear associated with the former dictator of Iraq. During the opening reception, viewers will be able to interact with a U.S. veteran of the Iraq war who will select a color that represents his own personal experience with conflict and trauma.

About Wafaa Bilal

Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal, an Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, is known internationally for his online performance-based and interactive works, which provoke dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics. Previous projects reference surveillance, the mundane, and the things we leave behind. In Bilal’s 2007 project, Domestic Tension, which addressed the Iraq war, the artist spent a month in a Chicago gallery with a paintball gun, live streaming the space on the internet and inviting online participants to activate the gun’s aim to shoot at him in real time. Bilal graduated from the University of New Mexico and obtained an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2008 City Lights published “Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun,” about Bilal’s life and the Domestic Tension project.

Riley Robinson, Studio Director
Chad Dawkins, Studio Technician
The entire Artpace Team

Feature on Metaleptic.

More about the exhibition →

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Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio. Photos by Mark Menjivar.