Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: June 17 – September 30, 2015

Ink and Blood, Cathy DeForest

The Hampshire College Art Gallery will host the traveling exhibition, Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, from June 17 through September 30, 2015. The exhibition of 100 limited edition artists’ books, prints, and broadsides was created in response to the bombing of Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad in March 2007. The diverse group of artists from Europe, North American and the Middle East reveal a wide range of creative responses to the event. Al Mutanabbi Street, named after the classical 10th century Arab poet, had been the center of literary, intellectual and cultural life in Baghdad for centuries.

Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, “is a tribute to a street that grows into a large and archetypal symbol and spatial metaphor for books. Situated in Baghdad, the city of the Arabian Nights, and in the oldest civilization that brought humanity to learning through writing, al-Mutanabbi Street is a call for all to regain Baghdad’s cultural luster instead of letting it fade in violence, greed, exploitation and corruption in a wicked trajectory of dictatorship, invasion, occupation, and comic but dangerous puppets. (Muhsin al-Musawi’s preface to Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5th, 2007, Bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of the Booksellers” edited by Beau Beausoleil and Deema Shehabi, 2012)

Two of the participating artists, Liz Chalfin and Cathy DeForest, will speak at the opening reception for the show on June 18th at 5:00 pm in the Gallery. DeForest’s work “Our Immortal Soul” was recently selected for the Guild of Book Workers exhibition entitled “Vessel.”  Liz Chalfin, artist and printmaker, is the founder and director of Zea Mays Printmaking. We are excited to have their creative and passionate voices at the opening of this important exhibition.

The exhibition will conclude on September 28th at 4:30pm with a faculty panel addressing some of the questions raised by the artworks, and putting those questions into political, religious, social and artistic context.

All events are free and open to the public. The library gallery is open Monday – Friday, 10:30am -4:30pm and is located on the lower level of the Hampshire College Library. For further information, please contact:

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