Thursday, 7 October 2010

Iraq Car Bomb At Imperial War Museum

These images show the remains of a car bomb which was involved in the bombing of the Al-Mutanabbi street book market in the Iraqi capital on the 5th of March 2007. This modern weapon of war has also been shown in museums in New York, Los Angeles & Chicago, but it is now part of the permanent collection at the Imperial War Museum. The car was one of two shipped out of Iraq in May 2007 by Dutch curator Robert Kluijver for an anti-war event in the Netherlands. The Turner prize winning artist Jeremy Deller then took the mangled remains on a tour of America. Happily it has now found a permanent home at the Imperial War Museum. At the beginning of the twentieth century 10% of all casualties in conflicts were civilians, now the civilian casualty ratio is 90%. This statistic explains why the placing of the car remains at the Imperial War Museum is the perfect home for it. Being placed alongside the other weapons of war gives the correct context in which to view the mangled object, as I feel that to display it within an art  context or art gallery diminishes and trivialises the nature of the remains.

When I visited the IWM as I have done many times before it was the first thing that I saw when I entered  the museum. The sight of it threw me back with shock. It was so scary, nightmarish, but also sadly very compulsive viewing. I felt that it was like looking at a terrible car crash scene and I also thought of the 'Car crash series' by Andy Warhol. It was very interesting to see it in the real, and has brought me closer to an understanding of the true horror of modern warfare. At first glance I couldn't even see it as a car as it has completely lost its shape, but when you are up close you can see and recognise parts of the rusted metal structure and clearly still see the car seats. Thinking about it now, this car is no longer really a car. It was a deadly weapon, but now it is definitely a war grave.

Finally in conclusion I thought and still think, if this is what a car bomb can do to metal, then what must it do to flesh and bone?

Imperial War Museum London

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