Memorial Universitys Queen Elizabeth II Library (QEll) is hosting a commemorative exhibit of travelling artists books from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition.
This international arts coalition continues to sponsor a number of different projects in response to the horrific car bombing on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed 30 people and wounded more than 100 on March 5, 2007. The street, named after 10th century Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi, is famous for its booksellers and book market.
There are 45 limited-edition books on display from 10 countries. The works encompass a variety of styles including accordion-folded books, flag books, pop-up books, books in boxes and scrolls and employ a wide variety of media such as wax, metal, mirror, roof shingles, gold leaf, ribbons, ash, thread, sand paper and even velvet.
There are two aspects to the exhibit which stand out to me over and above the qualities of the individual books, said Patrick Warner, exhibit curator and special collections librarian in the QEII Library. One is that it draws attention to a tragedy, the bombing of a street market in Baghdad and the killing and maiming of people who just happened to be there on that day.
Focusing on a particular incident one of the many bombings that happened and continue to happen in Iraq gives the tragedy a human face, one that can easily be lost in the flow of news reports, statistics and political rhetoric about the conflict. The second is that this particular bombing was not just an attack on people, it was an attack on culture.
The response organized by the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition is the response of a literate culture which has at its heart creativity, not destruction.
The exhibit is on display from June 20-Aug. 31 on the second floor of the QEII Library.