Linfield Gallery show to feature 100,000 names

Submitted photoFor his Linfield Gallery show, artist Wafaa Bilal will paint on the walls the names of civilians who died in the Iraq War.
Submitted photo
For his Linfield Gallery show, artist Wafaa Bilal will paint on the walls the names of civilians who died in the Iraq War.
Wafaa Bilal
Wafaa Bilal

An exhibit by interactive artist Wafaa Bilal, “I Don’t Know Their Names,” will be on display April 1 through May 10 in the Linfield Gallery of the James Miller Fine Arts Center at Linfield College.

An artist talk and opening reception for Bilal will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in the Gallery. Admission is free to both the reception and the exhibit itself.

Bilal is known internationally for his interactive works that generate dialogue about world politics and internal dynamics.

For “I Don’t Know Their Names,” he will use white, semi-translucent paint to display the names of 100,000 Iraqi civilians who have died in the Iraq War on the Linfield Gallery walls.

The artist said the project takes advantage of the gallery’s natural lighting and physical configuration. When visitors enter the space, the gallery will appear to contain nothing, he said. However, as sunlight travels across the gallery over the course of the day, it will refract against the reflective paint, revealing the hidden Arabic text.

Bilal, an associate arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, fled Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War. After two years in refugee camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, he came to the U.S. He graduated from the University of New Mexico and received a master’s degree in fine arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2010, Bilal had a camera surgically implanted on the back of his head to spontaneously transmit images to the web 24 hours a day — a statement on surveillance, the mundane and the things we leave behind. Bilal’s 2010 work “… And Counting” similarly used his own body as a medium: His back was tattooed with a map of Iraq and dots representing Iraqi and U.S. casualties – the Iraqis in invisible ink seen only under a black light. In 2007, Bilal spent a month in a Chicago gallery with a paintball gun; people could fire paintballs at him over the Internet.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Lacroute Arts Series at Linfield College, the Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement, Linfield Gallery and the Department of Art and Visual Culture.

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