Jeremy Deller. Baghdad, 5 March 2007

Jeremy Deller. Baghdad, 5 March 2007. Imperial War Museum, London.

Originally Jeremy Deller had proposed a bombed car from Iraq (called The Spoils of War (Memorial for an Unknown Civilian)) for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, an ongoing rotating sculpture competition. Unfortunately, it wasn't chosen.  Unfortunate, because for the countries responsible for the war in Iraq, collateral damage is very abstract.  Four thousand American troops were killed in Iraq; hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in Iraq.  That abstraction alone is near meaningless: numbers as synecdoche.

What Deller did do was to take a car from Iraq that had been completely crushed by the bomb in in the Mutanabbi Street book market in 2007 which killed 38 people. He installed it at the New Museum in NY (called It Is What It Is) and then towed it through the red states of the US showing what a bombed Iraqi car looks like.  It is now installed at the Imperial War Museum in London (called Baghdad, 5 March 2007) in a hall full of the official hardware of war. 

It isn't art, but Deller said on the Strand last night, I am an artist, so I can propose things.  And in this case, the Imperial War Museum took it – a statement they clearly felt they had to make.

Jeremy Deller. It Is What It Is, 2008. On view in the United States.