“And Counting… is the location Bilal’s performance creates. This decisive, irreversible action will establish an embodied, and, as long as Wafaa Bilal is alive, timeless memorial to the nightmare of the Iraq war, with the war’s most devastating consequences engraved not only in Bilal’s consciousness but also approximated in the flesh.
Once the map of Iraq is tattooed onto Wafaa Bilal’s back and the 5,000 red dots representing fallen U.S. soldiers are met by the 100,000 green dots designating fallen Iraqis, the latter visible only under UV light, there is no turning back. Tattoos are almost impossible to erase, as many soldiers have learned. They are a constant reminder of an irrevocably decisive moment. Monuments, by contrast, although built with good intentions and designed to help us remember, often simply accelerate our capacity to forget. They inevitably become absorbed into our visual landscape. Remembering is directly connected to the body—sensual stimuli activating hidden memories all the way back to childhood, as Proust, for one, demonstrated with such elegance. So the act of engraving memory onto oneself is an attempt to secure an everlasting re-membrance of the past. " Carol Becker