David Winton Bell Gallery
3 April - 26 May, 2013

The Ashes Series marks a shifts in the platform of Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal. Known for provocative, performative, and innovative artwork often using technology and new media, Bilal has cultivated an aesthetic of conflict, tension, and direct confrontation with the social, political, and ethical dynamics of the modern world. In contrast, the photographs in The Ashes Series are still - almost serene. The exhibition, curated by Ian Alden Russell, is the premier of the complete The Ashes Series - ten photographs of models constructed by the artist based on mass-syndicated images of the destruction of Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Quiet scenes of a chair persistently standing amidst the rubble, Saddam Hussein's unmade bed, or a lone hospital bed pillow left behind testify to the external violence that literally ripped these spaces open to the public's gaze. In all the photographs, he has removed the human figures that were present in the original images, replacing them with 21 grams of human ashes distributed throughout the ten models. Referencing the mythical weight of the human soul, these 21 grams insert a human aura into the photographs, troubling the serenity of the scenes - the afterimage of conflict. The proverbial dust, captured suspended in mid-air by the camera, will never settle.


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