September 16, 2015, 6:00 pm - March 1, 2024, 8:23 am


Bus Boys and Poets
1025 5th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20001 (Map)

The Middle East Institute is pleased to host Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal known internationally for his performative and interactive works, many of which address the Iraq war, for a presentation and discussion of his recent work. Named "artist of the year" in 2008 by the Chicago Tribune for his politically provocative work, Bilal's art is informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously in two worlds - his home in the "comfort zone" of the U.S. and his consciousness of the "conflict zone" in Iraq.
Bilal will discuss specific bodies of work including Domestic Tension (aka 'Shoot an Iraqi'), Virtual Jihadi and the 3rdi, for which he had a camera surgically implanted on the back of his head. The discussion will cover the evolution of his work, reflecting on his personal narrative and experiences living in both the conflict zone of Iraq and the comfort of the United States. Carol Huh, curator of contemporary Asian art at the Freer-Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, will moderate the talk.
The event is free and open to the public, no registration is required. The evening will beign with a reception from 6:00-6:30PM, followed by the artist talk from 6:30-8:00PM.
Speaker Biographies
Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi-born artist who is renowned for provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics through high profile, technologically-driven art projects that employ the use of robotics, the internet, and photographic mobile mapping. Bilal’s work is constantly informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously in two worlds – his home in the “comfort zone” of the U.S. and his consciousness of the “conflict zone” in Iraq. Using his own body as a medium, Bilal continues to challenge our comfort zone with projects like 3rdi and and Counting.... His work can be found in the permanent collections of several museums including, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art. He holds a BFA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently an Associate Arts Professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Carol Huh (moderator) is the first curator of contemporary art at the Freer and Sackler. Through exhibitions, acquisitions, and public programs, she is responsible for further developing the Galleries’ effort to explore current environments of artistic production and social change related to Asia. Recent projects have included the museum’s ongoing Perspectives series (including works by Y.Z. Kami, Anish Kapoor, Hai Bo, Hale Tenger, Lu Chunsheng, Minouk Lim, Ai Weiwei, and Rina Banerjee). Huh organized Moving Perspectives, the Galleries’ first series of exhibitions focusing on video art from Asia (with works by Shahzia Sikander, Lida Abdul, Dinh Q Lé, Yang Fudong, and Yeondoo Jung, among others). Special exhibitions include works by Ahmed Mater (upcoming 2016),  Sense of Place: Landscape Photographs from Asia (2013), Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project (2013), Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne al-Ani (2012), and Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall (in-house curator, 2010). She is responsible for building the Galleries’ collections of contemporary Asian art, especially in the area of photography. Huh is co-chair of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Committee and member of the Smithsonian Networks Review Committee.