In the coming fall, the artist Wafaa Bilal will take fellowship at WAM. His goal will be to gather an international collaborative team to develop a proposal for rebuilding the library of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad, destroyed during the U.S. invasion. We invite UMN faculty, fellows, and students to contribute to the project. If you would like to meet with Wafaa, please reach out to Boris Oicherman, boris@umn.edu

 

During the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost their entire library to looters who set fire to the collection. More than 70,000 books were destroyed. Thirteen years later, when Wafaa Bilal’s project 168:01 commenced, students at the college had only a few remnants for their study. In response, Wafaa created an artwork where gallery visitors exchanged art books for parts of the exhibit. Thus far, the project has collected and shipped over 5,000 books, and supported building a reading room for students. All along, Wafaa worked closely with the faculty, students and artists at the University of Baghdad, who expressed the need for a new library environment that would foster creativity and social exchange. The present stage of the project focuses on imagining such an environment.

 

In order to do so, Wafaa will be a fellow at the University of Minnesota in the next academic year (2020–21). The Weisman Art Museum, the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), and the Minnesota Design Center of the College of Design are inviting UMN faculty, staff, and students to contribute their knowledge and experiences to the project while Wafaa is in-residence. Potential disciplines of collaborators might include, but are not limited to: architecture, social sciences, art, civil and structural engineering, design, the humanities, environmental sciences, and so on. This project will provide a unique collaborative opportunity leading to a one-of-kind creative collaboration that transcends geographies and cultures. Learn more about the call for collaboration here.

 

Wafaa will visit campus on January 22 – 24, 2020. On Wednesday, January 22, he will present the project to the public; From 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. On January 23, he will have personal conversations with potential collaborators; And on January 24, he will host a Brown Bag Lunch at the ICGC. Contact Boris Oicherman, Curator for Creative Collaboration at WAM at boris@umn.edu to get involved, to schedule a meeting, or to ask questions.

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Bilal is known internationally for provoking dialogue about international politics through high profile, technologically-driven projects that employ the use of robotics, the internet, and photographic mobile mapping. His work explores tensions between the cultural spaces he occupies—his home in the “comfort zone” of the U.S. and his consciousness in the “conflict zone” of Iraq.