conceptual art, Iraq, Jeremy Deller

Jeremy Deller, It Is What It Is (2009)

August 18, 2010

Jeremy Deller, It Is What It Is (2009). Image courtesy IWM London.

Not many objects could be juxtaposed with an entire country. But touring the US with the wreckage from a car bomb in a Baghdad market has surely done so.

You would think the crumpled car would prove as unwelcome as an early readymade sculpture in a museum of fine art. But it seems Americans are nothing if not open and the vehicle is reported to have drawn more interest than antagonism during its three week trip from New York to LA.

An artist was behind the project, but the object was not signed and it was not intended as a work of art. That would have got in the way of a first hand encounter with an effect of the recent war. If you wanted to know more, there were Iraq experts on hand to talk about the situation on the ground.

But the minimal presentation, the simplicity of the project, and its documentation could all still be called art. The gesture itself, to trace an imaginary scar across America, is nothing else but.

Perhaps an educator or an activist might have wanted to undertake this project, had they thought of it first and been daring enough. Perhaps Jeremy Deller is a bit of both. He, at least, knew enough to let the car, more or less, speak for itself.

From 9 September the car will go on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum London as Baghdad, 5 March 2007.

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