A Call to Action for Book Aritsts
On March 5, 2007 in Iraq, 30 people were killed and over 100 more were injured in a car bombing on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. Along with the people who died came the death of a cultural mecca. Al-Mutanabbi was “the heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community.” On Al-Mutanabbi Street were bookstores, outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and tea and tobacco shops.
Al-Mutanabbi was most known for publishing and selling books that were banned as well as books that were not. This street was an outlet for those who wanted to write and read freely. The street was named after the poet Al-Mutanabbi who was killed for his writing. The bookshops contained literature of Iraq and the Middle East; history, political theory, popular novels, scholarly works, religious books, technical books, comics, children books and even stationary and blank school notebooks.
After hearing of this tragedy, Beau Beausoleil, who lives in San Francisco formed the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition. In April of 2007, Beausoleil sent out a worldwide call for broadsides to commemorate and honor everything that was lost in the bombing. Broadsides came in from all over the world, including Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Britain, the U.S.A. and Canada. 130 broadsides were collected and a series of them was given to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad. A selection of those broadsides can be viewed here.
Now Beausoleil and the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, is calling for a new set of submissions from book arts world. Beausoleil is asking for artists to work on a project to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in Baghdad. Beausoleil is looking for work that holds both “memory and future” which is exactly what was lost on Al-Mutanabbi Street.
Beausoleil is also asking that each artist create three books within one year from the date that they sign on to the project. As with the broadsides one set of 130 will be donated to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad, while the other two sets will be exhibited with the broadsides as well as individually. As Beausoleil tell us, “one of the purposes of this project is to let those in the Iraqi arts community know that we will not let them endure the destruction of the Iraqi culture in silence.”
Beausoleil is also collecting donations to create an anthology of the broadsides. The goal is to raise $4,000 and he needs your donations to make that happen. To donate simply send a Paypal payment to the email address listed in his contact information below. You can also contact Beau for more information about either project.
719 Lisbon St.
San Francisco, CA 94112