I recently saw the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. The exhibit commemorates the 2007 bombing that resulted in the loss of a vibrant cultural and literary community in Baghdad. The exhibit has been traveling the world since 2012 and includes artists’ books and broadsides by artists from 26 countries.
The exhibit at Goddard included a small selection of the total works collected for the exhibit, which numbers at approximately 260 artists’ books.
Upon entering the exhibit space, I was immediately taken by the piece My Poem Becomes Theirs by Helga Butzer Felleiseh. It consisted of long hand cut vellum panels that gracefully cascaded down the wall. Her hand work is amazing.
The next piece that caught my eye was a collaborative book created by students at the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Witness Al-Mutanabbi contained prints that focused on a variety of themes, including freedom of expression and violence as a method of censorship. The book showed the wide variety of responses to the bombing.
In general, I found myself attracted to the letterpress broadsides, which usually don’t draw my attention as much as artists’ books do. It’s probably due to my use of the Dartmouth letterpress studio – I have an increasing respect for the art form.
Overall, it was a powerful exhibit and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see it in person. If you’d like to see the exhibit, check out the exhibition schedule and if you’re lucky, maybe it’s coming your way. They have dates set into 2016.
If they’re not going to be in your neck of the woods, you can view pieces from the exhibit online.