Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal will tribute the 105,000 “…and Counting” casualties of “operation Iraqi Freedom” by tattooing them on his skin in a 24-hour performance action at Elizabeth Foundation of the Arts┬ánext week.

In preparation, the artist has already tattooed 16 Iraqi cities on his back. From 8pm on March 8th to 8pm on March 9th, 5,000 dots will be carved in red ink to represent American casualties. In ink visible under ultraviolet, 100,000 dots will represent “unidentified and forgotten Iraqi victims.” The action will be televised via foundation’s web site in two channels, one of Bilal’s back and one of the audience as the known names casualties and acknowledgments of the anonymous are read aloud. The next day, Bilal flies to San Francisco to exhibit himself.

The artist doesn’t compare the physical pain to the suffering of his people, but aims to bring the deaths to the consciousness of the public. With each dot, Bilal hopes to earn $1 to the Rally for Iraq charity.

Bilal’s previous actions involved being waterboarded and another living for a month in a Chicago art gallery, shot by a paintball gun when elected by live Internet observers commanding the trigger (Shoot an Iraqi, 2007). |NYT|