Current Exhibition: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here
Exhibition coordinated by Sas Colby
Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition was formed soon afterwards to commemorate not just the tragic loss of life, but also the idea of a targeted attack on a street where ideas have always been exchanged.
A complete set of all the books will be donated to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad. The other two sets are touring for the next few years in conjunction with shows of the broadsides as well as in shows of their own.
The inventory of al-Mutanabbi Street was as diverse as the Iraqi population, including literature of both Iraq and the Middle East, history, political theory, popular novels, scholarly works, religious tracts, technical books, poetry, mysteries; even stationery and blank school notebooks could be purchased on this street, as well as children’s books, comics, and magazines. Arabic was of course the predominate language but books in Farsi, French, German, and English were also represented. Because books have their own journeys, ones quite unknown to us, there were also a few books in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, or Italian, as well as classic Greek and Latin, Hindi, or even Russian.
This project is both a lament and a commemoration of the singular power of words. We asked that the work move within these parameters. We hope the books created would use al-Mutanabbi and its printers, writers, booksellers, and readers, as a touchstone. We hope that these books will make visible the literary bridge that connects us, made of words and images that move back and forth between the readers in Iraq and ourselves. These books will show the commonality of al-Mutanabbi Street with any street, anywhere that holds a bookstore or cultural institution.
And that this attack (part of a long history of attacking the printed word) was an attack on us all.
The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition is not an anti-war project, nor is it a healing project. The coalition feels that until we truly see what happened on this one winding street of booksellers and readers, on this one day in Baghdad, until we understand all the implications of an attack on the printed word and its writers, printers, booksellers and readers, until we see that this is our street, until then, we cannot truly move forward.