Last weekend we opened the exhibition Detroit to Baghdad: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, in partnership with the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition.
On March 5, 2007 a car bomb destroyed part of Baghdad’s book selling district on Al-Mutanabbi Street. About 30 people were killed, and over 100 more were injured in the blast. It was a terrible blow to the Iraqi people and their cultural freedoms. However, the street was completely rebuilt by December 2008, and once more a thriving cultural hub.
The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition was started by San Francisco-based poet and bookseller Beau Beausoleil in 2007, in an international response to this tragic act of violence. A call was put out to letterpress artists all over the world to contribute broadside prints to a series of exhibitions in solidarity with those who were affected. At some of these exhibitions, copies of the prints were sold to support charities like Doctors Without Borders. Later, the project expanded to include book makers, and most recently print artists as well.
So far, about 600 artists from 20 different countries have contributed work. The exhibition at the AANM combines a sampling from all three phases of the Coalition’s efforts, and will be on display in the Lower Level until July 12, 2015. We welcome you to browse the collection as if you were visiting Al-Mutanabbi Street, and reflect on where your personal cultural centers exist.
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