Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

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.

Artists' book by Helga Butzer Felleiseh

“My Poem Becomes Theirs”

Artists' book by Helga Butzer Felleiseh

“My Poem Becomes Theirs”

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.

Artists' book by students at the University of Michigan

“Witness Al-Mutanabbi”

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.

Broadside by Sarah Bodman

“Make Books Not War” by Sarah Bodman

Broadside by Ellen Knudson

“Control” by Ellen Knudson

Broadside by Ellen Knudson


Broadside by John Packer

“A room without books…” by John Packer

Broadside by Kelly Nelson

“live dangerously” by Kelly Nelson

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.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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