One Tattoo for Every Casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom One Tattoo for Every Casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom
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One Tattoo for Every Casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom

by Patrick James

February 17, 2010
In a move that sees the human body used as a permanent canvas, the artist Wafaa Bilal is getting a massive tattoo that contains one dot for every casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bilal calls the project "...and Counting."From Information Aesthetics:
The full-back tattoo will be applied during a 24 hour performance on March 8th in conjunction with a fundraiser aimed at collecting $1 per death towards scholarships for Americans and Iraqis who lost their parents in the war. Kyle McDonald designed the visualization for this remarkable tattoo, which contains more than [4,000] US soldiers in red ink, and more than [100,000] "invisible" civilians depicted in ultraviolet ink.
As performance art goes, I'd say that the irreversibility of this action adds a lot. The layout and the red-versus-ultraviolet design also manages to be clever without being irreverent, which feels appropriate. On Bilal's website, he notes that his brother was killed by a missile at a checkpoint in their home town of Kufa, Iraq, in 2004. Although he says he feels the pain of both the American and Iraqi families who have lost loved ones, he fears that deaths like his brother's "are largely invisible to the American public."The performance takes place Wednesday, March 8, at 8 p.m. (lasting until 8 p.m. the following night) at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City. Various people will read the names of the war dead. Bilal is asking each visitor to donate $1.

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One Tattoo for Every Casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom