Commissioned and produced by Creative Time and the New Museum, the project is encouraging public discussion of the history, present circumstances and future of Iraq through unscripted, nonpartisan conversations in cities across the country. These talks will be held in public sites such as shopping malls and parks by guest experts, Iraq war veteran Jonathan Harvey and Iraqi artist and refugee Esam Pasha.
UH will host the project from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thursday, April 9 in front of the Mitchell Center building (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). It also will be presented at Emancipation Park (3018 Dowling St.) in the Third Ward from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Friday, April 10. The public is encouraged to visit the project.
At 7 p.m., Thursday, April 9, Deller will present a free lecture at the Glassell School of Art.
In addition to guest experts, the project will feature the remains of a car that was destroyed in a bombing on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad in March 2007. This tragedy killed more than 30 people and has taken on added significance because the street, named after a well-known Iraqi poet, was the site of numerous book markets and cafés. It also was considered the nexus of Baghdad's cultural and intellectual life. The burned out automobile is meant to ground conversations in the facts, figures and eyewitness descriptions that have been lacking in most information about the war. It also is intended to serve as a visual aid to prompt open dialogue and civil conversation.
Deller conceived "It Is What It Is" to stimulate unmediated dialogue about the war in Iraq and its relationship to Americans and the United States.
"I have read a ton of books and articles about the war but short of going to Iraq itself, there is no substitute for meeting someone who has actually lived or been there, hence the core part of this project," he said.
On March 25, the project began a three-week road trip from New York to Los Angeles. During this time, the artist and guest experts are visiting at least 10 cities across the country. This tour will broaden and deepen the dialogue that began during its initial installation in New York and extend the conversation to diverse audiences across the country.
To learn more about "It Is What It Is," visit www.conversationsaboutiraq.org.