PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Iraqi refugees, American veterans, artists and musicians will gather on Independence Mall at 6 p.m. on Saturday for a live performance of their project called “Radio Silence.”
It’s a hybrid documentary, variety show and radio play, featuring storytelling by the people most affected by events in Iraq, from the 1960’s to after the Iraq war, as various stakeholders describe their experiences.
Artists working with Mural Arts Philadelphia provide backdrops, while Arabic musicians perform.
The project creator, artist Michael Rakowitz, originally intended to build the program around “the spirit and voice” of an Iraqi radio/TV personality who lived in Philadelphia, as a refugee.
“I was introduced to the story of Bahjat Abdulwahed, known as the Walter Cronkite of Iraq,” Rakowitz said. “His elocution was absolutely beautiful, caramel voice. Both his Arabic and English were wonderful.”
But Abdulwahed passed away suddenly, just as production began with their one and only recording session. They preserved his introduction.
Rakowitz will follow that up with a ten-episode radio show, featuring interviews, poetry and songs, as he puts it, “to resist cultural amnesia, hold onto the best of what Iraq was, and what their new lives in America will be.”