Via B. Blagojevi? for ArtCal “Iraqi American video artist Wafaa Bilal’s recent exhibition at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, Virtual Jihadi, was closed by the University’s administration a day after its initial opening on 5 March 2008.

A conservative commentator on the state payroll called for protests to Bilal’s exhibition before its opening in the pages of the Troy Record, citing a work based on an incendiary video game exhibited in a university art gallery.

The offending work, a video in which Bilal depicts himself as an Iraqi civilian radicalized by his brother’s death and driven to join an Al-Qaidea in Iraq cell as a suicide bomber, positions the artist’s character in an interactive video game called The Night of Bush Capturing, an Islamist détournement of Hunt for Saddam, an American first person shooter in which a protagonist U.S. soldier makes his way through a virtual world populated by stereotypical Iraqi men in an Odyssean journey to “hunt” and kill former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. RPI cited concerns that Balil’s work may make use of university resources to ‘provide a platform for what may be a product of a terrorist organization or which suggests violence directed toward the president of the United States and his family.’

Following the censoring of the exhibition at the university art gallery, Balil seems to have been blacklisted from campus and denied access to university buidlings, despite being RPI’s current artist in residence and being assured by the university president that he remains a welcome member of the community regardless of the recent controversy. Balil describes this and more in a recent video interview.”

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Meg Onli

Meg Onli is a visual artist and blogger born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Meg moved to Chicago, Illinois in 2005 where she received a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been with the Chicago-based art and culture podcast/blog Bad at Sports since 2006 where she is currently the Associate Producer. She has an unfathomable apatite for documentary films, 60s & 70s performance art, and cute cats. Meg has exhibited work in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. Currently, she is working on a project that documents her steps in recording Motwon’s first girl group sensation, the Marvelettes, version of “Where did Our Love Go?”

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