Car as a weapon of mass destruction

Jeremy Deller, It is what it is, 2006

Following the Iraq War, we saw Jeremy Deller’s car wreckage, salvaged from a bomb blast site in Baghdad, in an attempt to transplant the impact of war from the ‘battlefields’, in Iraq, into his home in America, then to Europe, to show the world this graphic expression of death and destruction. The artist brought this car wreckage after it was destroyed in a major bomb attack in Al-Mutanabbi Street, an ancient book market in the heart of Baghdad, in 2007. The blast killed 35 people and left hundreds injured, not to mention blowing the scores of rare books and manuscript that were traded there into pieces. Firstly, Deller took the damaged car on a tour to some American cities in an attempt to bring the consequences of the Iraq war and its impact closer to the American people before displaying it permanently at the Imperial War Museum in London.

In Deller’s work, the devastating image of the reality of Baghdad that transforms the victims into this grotesque wreckage serves a powerful shock to the viewers. As he put it, “you are not looking at the car, you are looking at 35 dead bodies”. This powerful reminder of carnage and destruction and the twisted metal, which is all that is left of the body of the car would then shock the viewers and raise the question of, if this is what a bomb can do to a steel car, what is the impact on human beings? It makes a viewer ponders upon the remains of those 35 victims.


Gardenia White