Michael Rakowitz, Enemy Kitchen, 2003-Present. Cooking workshop and ongoing public performance. Most recently commissioned by Smart Museum of Art for Feast exhibition. Courtesy of the artist.
Mural Arts Philadelphia presents Radio Silence, a large-scale performance on Independence Mall conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz and curator Elizabeth Thomas, inspired by the late Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulwahed—dubbed the “Walter Cronkite of Baghdad”—who lived in Philadelphia as a refugee until his death last year.
Weaving together recordings of Abdulwahed’s broadcasts with testimonials from Iraq War veterans and Iraqi refugees, Radio Silence will feature Rakowitz as the host along with performances and storytelling by members of the local Iraqi refugee community, a special “house band” ensemble of musicians in the Arab tradition led by Pew Fellow Hanna Khoury, followed by Iraqi cooking demonstrations. The stage will be designed by Philadelphia-based, Iraqi-born architect and painter Mayaddah Alhumssi, as an homage to the Iraqi monument, the Ziggurat of Ur.
The performance will be simulcast on PhillyCAM TV, followed by a 10-episode radio program hosted by Rakowitz that will air on WPPM PhillyCAM Radio 106.5 FM and community radio stations across the country in partnership with Prometheus Radio Project. The weekly episodes will feature interviews with Abdulwahed and other Iraqi refugees living in the Philadelphia area, alongside original poetry and songs by members of Warrior Writers who served in Iraq.
A rain date for this event is scheduled for July 30, 2017.