Conversations About Iraq

My friend Ben Brown has been on a very unique road trip. Essentially he is traveling around the country with a bombed out car from Iraq, parking it, and recording folks’ reactions. Here’s the summary from the site:

He [artist Jeremy Deller] will travel aboard an RV with Esam Pasha, artist and formerly a translator for the Chief Advisor in the British Embassy of Baghdad and for American forces around Iraq; and Jonathan Harvey, a veteran of the Iraq war and recently demobilized PSYOP specialist. They will park in public sites to hold conversations about Iraq. Visitors are encouraged to bring objects related to Iraq, and to participate in conversations with Pasha and Harvey.
Esam Pasha and Jonathan Harvey were selected by the artist, Creative Time, and the New Museum from a wide pool of applicants interested in the project. The destroyed car on view during the project’s installation at the New Museum will be placed on a flatbed trailer and hitched to the RV. As an artist who consistently privileges the concerns of social history, Deller is interested in providing a platform for discussion. The car on view in New York and on the road will be a visual aid to prompt open dialog and unrestricted conversation. When the project arrives in Los Angeles, it will be on view at the Hammer Museum until mid-May.

Here’s a video that Ben made along the way:

They’re nearing the end of their adventure, so be sure to check out the work. It’s an amazing and, in a lot of ways, overwhelming model of bringing many different art mediums, community dialogue, and documentary work together. It’s got my feminist wheels churning…what would it be like to do a similar road trip with an artifact from a bombed abortion clinic or a giant container of the 13,000 rape kits still untested in LA County?

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6 Comments

  1. Imitrex
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s got my feminist wheels churning…what would it be like to do a similar road trip with an artifact from a bombed abortion clinic or a giant container of the 13,000 rape kits still untested in LA County?
    Or a giant tub of aborted fetuses? Would that be art too?

  2. Rainey
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I get what you’re saying, but the first thing that popped into my mind was those giant aborted fetus posters pro-lifers love to drag around. They’re not claiming it’s art-as-a-means-to-conversation, but it’s not dissimilar.

  3. GREGORYABUTLER
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    OK – how can he say that he “doesn’t know how the war started” but then he turns around and says “the fighters were sent from foreign countries”?
    It’s not good to lie – ESPECIALLY TO CHILDREN.
    If he’s read a newspaper any time in the last 5 years, he knows the war started because PRESIDENT BUSH LAUNCHED AN UNPROVOKED INVASION OF IRAQ IN 2003
    And, initially, almost all of the Iraqi insurgents were Iraqi nationals resident in the country – the only “fighters … sent from foreign countries” were the US Army, the US Marine Corps and the British Army
    Later on, al-Qaeda did take advantage of the US invasion-created chaos in Iraq to enter the country (Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship had always kept them blocked out of Iraq) and wage a terrorist campaign, but the cold hard fact is, the Iraq war began with unprovoked Anglo American aggression against a defenseless Third World country who had been deprived of armaments for 12 years due to the UN embargo.
    So, if that is illustrative of the kind of “facts” this guy is presenting with the bombed out car, then this is nothing more than a George W Bush pro war propaganda tour!

  4. Courtney
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I find your arrogance off-putting. As included, this is Esam Pasha, artist and formerly a translator for the Chief Advisor in the British Embassy of Baghdad and for American forces around Iraq. He most certainly has read a newspaper. In fact, he’s translated for those writing it. I think he was speaking more abstractly about the difficulty to pin down the beginning of such a mystifying conflict (did it really start the second Bush launched the bombs? NO).

  5. postpostracial.wordpress.com
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    It is clear he made a connection with these kids. What is also clear is that several of them have real questions about the war, but it is likely no one (before now) has thought to talk with them about it.

  6. Nation Health
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    It is necessary for them, that war proceeded, that the region has been split, that oil therefrom shook, that suppliers of arms received profit, and the most important thing that Iraq was operating military base for an attack on the next rebellious oil-producing countries – Iran and Syria. Here still the fact confirming, that war and instability in Iraq are supported intentionally. To politicians it is favourable this instability.

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