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Burnt out

People inspect Jeremy Deller's Baghdad car bomb installation, entitled Baghdad, 5 March 2007, on display at the Imperial War Museum© InfoIt's a heap of crumpled metal that's also a moving art work. Explore a disturbing, gut-wrenching way of communicating the reality of war.

Learning objectives

By the end of the activity students will be able to:

  • describe an art installation from a photograph
  • say what effect the artwork might have on visitors and their attitudes to war.

Photo discussion

Look at the picture, available in a powerpoint. Note down as much as you can about it.

Switch off the powerpoint and describe the photo. First, give a quick neutral and objective account of it, as if you were describing it to someone who hadn't seen it. Then interpret or explain it. What is your best guess of what it is, where it is, and why?

  • It is a piece of art on display in the Imperial War Museum, which has a tradition of supporting war artists.
  • It is titled "Baghdad, 5 March 2007", and is what remains of a vehicle destroyed by a truck bomb in a market place in the Iraq capital.
  • The artist, Jeremy Deller, has said the work is not art – it is what it is, a bombed-out car. He says it represents the charred remains of people that could not be put on display.

One art critic says he was struck by how something solid and actual could replace the abstraction of nightmare news stories from far-away places. "The object is horribly disturbing, really gut-churning, because its fire-reddened, inside-out, flattened metal corpse makes you think unavoidably of human bodies."

Talk about the role of art in communicating the reality of war, and the impact on humanity. The Imperial War Museum is full of highly polished and impressive weaponry. Some people say it risks glamorising war. Who agrees? What impact might this artwork have on visitors to the museum and their attitude to war?

For an out-of-class exercise, find famous examples of war art from various times. Which do you find most moving?


First published in September 2010 this educational resource was reviewed and updated in October 2012 to include links to the artwork at the Imperial War Museum.



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