Radio Silence

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Conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz, Radio Silence returns famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulawahed to the airwaves after decades of absence in the surreal world of “Radio Baghdad.” Bringing together the voices and talents of Iraqi refugees, Iraq War veterans, and musicians and performers, the program weaves elements of experimental documentary, radio plays, sound collage, and variety programs to frame the real experiences and talents of participants and reconstruct an Iraq dematerialized by literal destruction and diasporic separation.

Material is drawn from their own experiences in Iraq, America, and in between–from the progressive Iraq of the 1960s, to the decimation of physical and emotional landscapes during and after the 2003 American invasion and subsequent war in Iraq, to the realities of life in the United States, post-immigration and/or post-war. The program animates Iraq through scattered protagonists, conflating geography, time, and experience, as the audio (ranging from field recording and first-person narrative to music and poetry), layers like fragments of excavated artifacts.

We are building a national (and international) network of broadcast partners who want to participate in a groundbreaking performance and radio project by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz. Radio Silence will launch with a live performance on Independence Mall in Philadelphia on July 29, with a special ten-episode radio event to follow, produced in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Rakowitz is an internationally acclaimed artist, working across performance, social practice, and installation, who conceived this site-specific project as a response to the context of Philadelphia—living home of American history, site of a large Iraqi refugee community, and home to both Warrior Writers and the Prometheus Radio project. The project can be seen as an alternative form of public art—trading the street corner for the public airwaves, and representation via images for evocation via voice and sound.


Series

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7 Pieces

Conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz, Radio Silence returns famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulawahed to the airwaves after decades of absence in the surreal world of “Radio Baghdad.” Bringing together the voices and talents of Iraqi refugees, Iraq War veterans, and musicians and performers, the program weaves elements of experimental documentary, radio plays, sound collage, and variety programs to frame the real experiences and talents of participants and reconstruct an Iraq dematerialized by literal destruction and diasporic separation.


Pieces

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We’ll hear about Iraqi monuments kept hostage by US troops, denying access to the Iraqis to whom they belong.

  • Added: May 20, 2018
  • Length: 30:00
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An Iraqi tells us about the absence of certain sounds in the Arabic language, and a veteran reads letters from her former grade school teacher’s cl...

  • Added: May 13, 2018
  • Length: 29:44
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We’ll hear about a soldier’s refusal of tea and how that led him to work toward rediscovering his and Iraq’s humanity.

  • Added: May 06, 2018
  • Length: 29:54
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An Iraqi activist shares stories about silence as a form of protection in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

  • Added: Apr 29, 2018
  • Length: 30:30
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We’ll explore the sounds that have been evacuated from Iraq, musicians muted by their disappeared audiences and bygone origins.

  • Added: Apr 25, 2018
  • Length: 30:00
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Our debut episode, devoted to the topic of speechlessness, introduces you to our host Bahjat Abdulwahed, the “Walter Cronkite of Iraq” living as a ...

  • Added: Apr 25, 2018
  • Length: 29:52
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Trailer for Radio Silence series

  • Added: Apr 09, 2018
  • Length: :30