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Mural Arts Philadelphia presents Radio Silence, a radio series by Iraqi–American artist Michael Rakowitz that brings the Iraqi diaspora to the airwaves.
Rakowitz and curator Elizabeth Thomas conceived Radio Silence for Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, inspired by famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulwahed, who lived in the city as a refugee until his death in 2016. Radio Silence brings together recordings of Abdulwahed with other Philadelphia-based Iraqi refugees and Iraq War veterans, through a partnership with local nonprofit Warrior Writers.
Throughout the seven-episode series, participants reflect on the culture of an Iraq that no longer exists, due to war and political unrest. Using first-person narrative, poetry, and music, in English and Arabic, Radio Silence spans the culturally rich Iraq of the 1960s to the decimation of physical and emotional landscapes, during and after the war.
Radio Silence continues with a new episode each Sunday through May 27, broadcast on community radio stations across the country in partnership with Prometheus Radio Project, and distributed nationwide on Public Radio Exchange. Listeners can find new episodes for download and streaming each week via iTunes or the project website, radiosilence.site, which also hosts archival images, essays, and other resources.
Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For more information, visit muralarts.org.
Major support for Radio Silence has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Hummingbird Foundation.