Absence and Presence:A Printmaking Response to the Bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street

Absence and Presence: A Printmaking Response to the Bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street



The beautifully presented Absence and Presence exhibition catalog, which includes information about the project, as well as images of the 57 prints included in the exhibition, is available at the front desk at San Francisco Center for the Book and by calling us at (415) 565-0545. Come in to pick up a copy or call us to order yours today.



The Absence and Presence exhibition closed on Sunday, January 25, 2015. From 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM additional prints from over 30 printmakers were on display and Beau Beausoleil, founder of the project, and regional project coordinators Cathy DeForest and Art Hazelwood offered information and answered questions on the final afternoon before the exhibition left for the next leg of its journey.



December 12, 2014 through January 25, 2015

The Al Mutanabbi Street print project, Absence and Presence, turned to printmakers to further the rallying call first made to letterpress broadside artists and then to book artists. San Francisco Poet and Bookseller Beau Beausoleil initiated these projects to support the people of Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, where a car bomb tore through this ancient booksellers street. Each form that the project has taken has allowed the strengths of different media to express the human connections among those who value culture from around the globe.

For the printmaking part of this project Beau Beausoleil worked with coordinators from across the US, the UK and Australia. Through their networks of fellow printmakers, the coordinators invited 260 participants. The number is significant as it is twice the number of those killed and injured in the attack of 2007. Through this network of artists a widely diverse group of printmakers has been assembled from Europe and the US, with additional artists from the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Each print was on a sheet size of 11 x 15 inches. Within those confines the artists formulated their response to the attack. While the artists book format lends itself to an unfolding narrative, the print is a fixed rectangle. The challenge to the printmakers in this project was to try to tell so much in one “scene”–the challenge of addressing the atrocity itself, the value of the book, the cultural interconnections between Iraq and the world.

Artists drew on their diverse life histories as they struggled to crystalize their thoughts into one single image. Some turned to the wider cultural background, exploring the ancient history of Iraq, or the relation between religious and secular culture, or simply the essential value of reading. To achieve these prints the artists utilized a wide array of techniques, from woodcut to spit bite aquatint etching, from screenprints to prints pulled from the leather tooled cover of an old book. The technical range and the diversity of approaches makes for a strong body of work that speaks to this one horrible act, isolating and examining it, not letting it escape down the memory hole of atrocities brought about by the Iraq War and its aftermath.

Art Hazelwood

Regional Coordinator - Absence and Presence



Rik Olson :: Jen Cole :: Claudio Orso-Giacone :: Luce :: Bev Samler :: Ray Ho :: Kathy Aoki :: Rebecca Dant :: Nanette Wylde :: Nahid Navab :: Art Hazelwood :: Cathy DeForest :: Catherine Cartwright :: Liz Shepherd :: Kent Manske :: Jessica Dunne :: Stephanie Mahan Stigliano :: Theresa Easton :: Carrie Ann Plank :: Kevin Mullins :: Gilly Thompson & Francisco Garnica :: Jos Sances :: Ruth Ginsberg-Place :: Ozlem Ayse Ozgur :: Mokhtar Paki :: Valeria Brancaforte :: Kahlil Bendib :: David Johnson :: Gary Harrell :: Carina Ripley :: Ingrid Sanchez :: Cathy King :: Anne Moreno :: Pat Clark & Julie Winter :: Elizabeth Ashcroft :: Nan Mulder :: David Avery :: Gloria Morales :: Patrick Piazza :: Katya McCulloch :: Sally Hebeler :: Martha Hayden :: Dan Welden :: Carol Brighton :: Felicia Rice :: Anita Klein :: Bob Tomolillo :: Joe Tighe :: Pamela Bowden :: Ania Gilmore & Annie Zeybekoglu :: Marsha Goldberg :: Annette Disslin :: Jesse Hansen :: Marcelle Hanselaar


Absence and Presence image:

Arise From Flames

Art Hazelwood