More about that artist at RPI who had his exhibition suspended

wafaa bilalAfter seeing the article this morning about RPI suspending the exhibition of "Virtual Jihadi," we were curious about Wafaa Bilal - - the artist behind the work. And it turns out he has quite a story.

According to his bio, Bilal was born in Iraq and fled the country after he got involved with an anti-Saddam movement. He ended up in a refugee camp in Kuwait, got shipped to Saudi Arabia and in 1992 found his way to the US. He still has family in Iraq and, according to that bio, his brother was killed by stray US gunfire.

Bilal created a big stir in the art world last year with his work "Domestic Tension." He set up himself up in a room for an entire month and let people shoot yellow paint balls at him via the web.

About his work, Bilal writes:

My art is most influenced by the pain and suffering of growing up under Sadaam Hussein's repressive rule from 1968 to the recent "Iraqi Freedom War".I experienced violence on a daily basis, and visions of death and terror together with the anguish to the Iraqi people are irrevocably etched in my memory. My generation in Iraq is defined by decades of war. Since coming to the United States I have also seen great injustice and suffering in the forms of poverty, racism, and many other forms of discrimination and hatred. From this point of departure, through art I strive to uncover an overarching human condition while creating a space for provocation, dialogue, and contemplation.

screengrab: Wafaa Bilal on YouTube

Comments

Isn't art supposed to be controversial and thought provoking? What happened to freedom of speech and making up our minds...

I agree. I found it quite peculiar that RPI has the new arts center because of its academic and military background. The military and art don't go hand in hand for a reason. And let us not forget there is no freedom of speech in the military. This is all so unfortunate.

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