Sorrow of Baghdad

wafaa bilal sorrow of baghdad 1
Figure 1

This work spoke of the political situation in iraq. Upon entering the room, the viewer was confronted by a statue of a burned shell of a mother holding her baby up, both to protect her infant from destruction and to offer it to the future (figure 1). Burned rubble surrounded her so as to embody images of war and destruction. The mother and child were inspired by a scene I witnessed in iraq where a woman carrying her child was hit by a bomb and was killed, even as she protected her baby from death.

Around the corner from the mother and child was a dome that symbolized spirituality (Figure 2). The gate through which one entered the small building was a jailer's gate. Inside was a tiny coffin and the sound of the baby's cries (Figure 3). It is the baby who had been saved by the mother for the future, this baby symbolizes the future of Iraq struggle for freedom. On the walls hang pictures of Iraqi faces (figure 4). The people are confined in this room. The only escape is through the window that looks out on the destruction of war. Because the horrors of war are fresh in their memories, they fear taking that route to freedom.

wafaa bilal sorrow of baghdad 2
Figure 2

The third part of this installation consists of a well dressed boar sitting in an easy chair (figure 5). Desert sand and oil wells are at his feet. The boar watches a series of seven short videos playing on a television set. He laughs periodically at what he sees. The boar represents big business literally running wild for ever larger profits, while these corporate leaders do not care who is hurt.

I can't take people physically to a war torn and embargo ravaged country, but i can do something analogous to it. If i can recreate this sensations that i have experienced, and that citizens of that country are now experiencing. If I can recreate the sensations that i have experienced, if I can surround the viewer with a sense of "being there," this faraway region and the suffering found there becomes more real, more intelligible, to the viewer. I want the viewer to live "the truth" for just a few minutes, to stir their emotions and to spark empathy with those who are oppressed.

wafaa bilal sorrow of baghdad 3
Figure 3

I want to show the viewer the political machinations behind the scenes and create an understanding of how governments, corporations, and religions cause suffering by treating human beings as expendable resources in their quest for power and money. When art carries a message of truth, I believe art has its most powerful effect when it touches all of the senses. Because, it touches the unconscious as well as the conscious mind, thus forcing those whose experience it to think about its subject. When all the senses are involved, the work sends a more powerful message.

wafaa bilal sorrow of baghdad 4
Figure 4

To hear an infant cry form a closed coffin elicits an automatic emotional response in the viewer-- the desire to open the coffin and release the infant. Because the infant is unseen, it is all infants. Race, color and religious affiliation are unimportant, because the people whose photographs hang on the wall above the coffin ( eyes focused on the viewer , souls reaching out). This renders them more human, more real, more vulnerable.

wafaa bilal sorrow of baghdad 5
Figure 5