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The Christian Science Monitor - Experimental Geography as Art

Since February, this strange caravan has been wending its way across the continental United States: a 39-foot RV; the gnarled carcass of a car destroyed two years ago in a suicide bombing in downtown Baghdad; and a rotating cast of artists, soldiers, and journalists, including an Iraqi national named Esam Pasha, and Jonathan Harvey, an American who fought in the Iraq war.

"It Is What It Is" was created by British artist Jeremy Deller to stimulate conversation about the conflict overseas. In cities from Santa Fe to Cincinnati, the participants disembark and invite ordinary Americans to speak their mind on issues political and personal. The car – ravaged and rusted – serves as a centerpiece: a steel-cast stand-in for the 38 Iraqis killed in the 2007 attack.

But for Nato Thompson, who is helping to curate the show on behalf of New York's New Museum and the nonprofit group Creative Time, the exhibition is more than a simple forum. It is also an integral addition to an emergent art form known as "experimental geography," which mashes the academic rigor of traditional geography with politics and the principles of modern multimedia and performance art.

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Posted date: 
Tuesday, May 5, 2009