Radio Silence is a large-scale project produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia, with artist Michael Rakowitz and curator Elizabeth Thomas. On April 15, 2018, Rakowitz and Mural Arts launched a seven-episode radio broadcast, the follow-up to a large-scale performance on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia that was simulcast on PhillyCAM TV. Radio Silence, conceived specifically for Philadelphia as the birthplace of American democracy, was inspired by famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulwahed, who lived in the city 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, the Iraqi diaspora, and the culture of an Iraq, that due to war and political unrest, no longer exists. Tune in weekly for new episodes, through May 27.
Stillness, and Still Here. Resilience. Remaining.
Our final episode: Listen to an American combat veteran recall Iraqi samoon bread, which he refers to as white gold. Hear the song of the Iraqi bulbul bird, the first sound ever broadcast on Radio Baghdad, reincarnated in Philadelphia. And listen to Bahjat’s legacy live on in the voice of his daughter Rawnak, broadcasting from Amman, also known as the ancient city of Philadelphia.
Listener Advisory: This episode contains brief instances of language that may be offensive to some listeners.
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Radio Silence, produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia, first launched with a live performance on Independence Mall in Philadelphia on July 30, 2017 and a simulcast on PhillyCAM TV (watch it here). The project can be seen as an alternative form of public art — trading the street corner for the public airwaves, and representation via images for evocation via voice and sound. Partners include Warrior Writers, Prometheus Radio project, and PhillyCAM.