Jeremy Deller – It is what it is- Conversations About Iraq, 2009, at Joy in People at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre
Photo: Linda Nylind
Why did Jeremy Deller bring a suicide car bomb to museums?
In the Imperial War Museum in London, surrounded by some of the most powerful military hardware of the last 100 years rests a rusting, crumpled car. This is a clear example of what war does. The car is a piece by Jeremy Deller and was a car that was contorted in a street bombing that killed 38 people and wounded many more at Baghdad’s Al-Mutanabbi book market. Al-Mutanabbi book market was at the heart of Baghdad’s cultural and intellectual life.
The car serves as a sobering reminder of the consequences of war on civilians, the toll it takes on lives, the destruction and devastation that comes with every act of war. The artist, Deller, won the Turner prize in 2004, is best known for recreating the Battle of Orgreave from the miners’ strike.
The visual destruction and devastation on the vehicle are only small and representative compared to the destruction and devastation in people’s lives, especially those who are in war-torn countries. Lives are lost and destroyed, worlds and realities become twisted and mangled, and families become broken. Deller’s piece is a gateway into the hurt, harm, and brokenness that comes with war. The fact that this piece is held at a war museum is also extremely significant.
This piece serves as a discussion piece, arguing different sides and aspects of war- this piece is simply what we need more of. Thought-provoking, raw, emotional, and profound- it takes the audience’s thoughts in different directions as they inspect the twisted metal that was once a fully formed vehicle, maybe like their own. It takes the audience to a place of realism and realization and takes something that is often out of sight and out of mind and places it directly in the guest’s line of sight.