April 10, 2018 - Mural Arts Philadelphia - Radio Silence 
A podcast and radio series conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz 
April 15–May 27, 2018 
April 10, 2018

Mural Arts Philadelphia

The July 2017 Radio Silence performance on Independence Mall, Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Radio Silence 
A podcast and radio series conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz 
April 15–May 27, 2018 

Radio Silence Episode #1 Listening Party: April 15, 12–2pm
Liberty View Ballroom, Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street, Philadelphia

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Mural Arts Philadelphia is excited to launch Radio Silence, a new podcast and radio series by Iraqi–American artist Michael Rakowitz and curated by Elizabeth Thomas. Conceived specifically for Philadelphia, Radio Silence was inspired by famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulwahed, who lived in Philadelphia as a refugee until his death in 2016. The project interweaves dreams and memories from Iraq, America, and in-between into a soundscape of the contemporary refugee experience.

Following a one-time stage production in July 2017, a special multi-episode radio show will now debut Sunday, April 15 on WPPM PhillyCAM Radio 106.5 FM and community radio stations across the country in partnership with Prometheus Radio Project—and distributed nationwide on Public Radio Exchange (PRX). The project website, radiosilence.site, will host weekly episodes for download through May 27 as well as various archival images; research, resources, and essays by leading practitioners on performance, Iraqi culture, and music; and contemporary visual art designed by Ryan Hines. Episodes can also be downloaded and streamed on a weekly basis via iTunes.

Radio Silence brings together recordings of Abdulwahed with other Philadelphia-based Iraqi refugees and Iraq War veterans, working with local nonprofit Warrior Writers—sharing their experiences as part of the Iraqi diaspora, and the culture of an Iraq that, due to war and political unrest, no longer exists. Using first-person narrative, poetry, and music, in English and Arabic, Radio Silence reconstructs a timeline of remembrances spanning the culturally rich Iraq of the 1960s to the decimation of physical and emotional landscapes during and after the war.

A free public listening party is open to the public on Sunday, April 15 from 12 (noon) to 2:30pm at the Liberty View ballroom at Independence Visitor Center, located at 599 Market Street, Independence Hall. Attendees will be among the first to hear the debut of Radio Silence episode #1 and will have the chance to meet the artist and project curator Elizabeth Thomas, as well as to enjoy a delicious meal of traditional Iraqi food from Amasi Restaurant. Registration is required; visit radiosilence.site/events.php to RSVP.

Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi–American artist living and working in Chicago. His 2011 project, Spoils, invited diners to eat off of plates looted from Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Enemy Kitchen (2003–ongoing) is a food truck serving Iraqi food to Chicago’s hungry public, staffed by veterans of the Iraq War working under Iraqi refugee chefs. His first US museum survey, titled Backstroke of the West, opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in September 2017. Rakowitz is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For over 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative and equitable process, creating nearly 4,000 artworks that have transformed public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts aims to empower people, stimulate dialogue, and build bridges to understanding with projects that attract artists from Philadelphia and around the world, and programs that focus on youth education, restorative justice, mental health and wellness, and public art and its preservation.

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. Project collaborators and partners include a host of agencies and nonprofits that work on refugee and veteran issues, as well as independent community-driven media nonprofits.

Mural Arts Philadelphia
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