Ben Davis at Artinfo has done a terrific job pulling together a slide show of artworks made in response to the Iraq War on the occasion this week of American troops returning home.
A few projects stand out. Domestic Tension (2007), by Iraqi-born Wafaa Bilal, was an experiment in which the artist lived alone for a month in a small room in Chicago, where he set up a webcam and a paintball gun remote-controlled by Internet viewers, whom he invited to "shoot an Iraqi." He was shot at 40,000 times.
I wish I'd had a chance to visit Jeremy Deller's traveling exhibition about the war, It Is What It Is, which began at the New Museum in New York in 2009 (it came west but did not get north of Los Angeles). It didn't produce objects, it produced conversations. Deller brought experts with him, and people directly involved in the war, so that visitors to the museums could delve into the issues with real people, not through newscasts. There is a road diary here.
Then there's artist Michael Rakowitz, who was in the news earlier this week with a great story: As an art project, he'd been serving food on dinner plates looted from Saddam Hussein's palace—and now they were being seized from his performance in order to be repatriated (there's a really nice three-minute video of the whole story here). Davis focuses on the storefront that Rakowitz used as an import/export business to and from Iraq to demonstrate the complexity of just trying to get some Iraqi dates.at Platform Gallery, are Suzanne Opton's photographs of soldiers, each one pictured lying on the side, only the head within the frame. It's a powerfully simple device. Opton will give a talk at the Henry Art Gallery on February 3.