On June 18th, the Hampshire Library gallery hosted a conversation among four of the participating artists in the traveling exhibition Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here , marking the opening of the exhibition which will be in the gallery through September 30th.
The show commemorates the destruction of the centuries old literary and cultural hub of Baghdad which was targeted by a car bomb in March 2007, killing 27 people and destroying the wonderful street filled with booksellers, literary cafes and printers. Beau Beausoleil, an activist, poet and bookseller in San Francisco, outraged by the attack, called on artists and writers to respond to the bombing as an act of witnessing and solidarity in the face of the destruction.
The exhibition at Hampshire showcases the work of about 100 artists books, prints and broadsides created by artists from the Middle East, North American and Europe who participated in Beau’s project. There are works by accomplished professional artists and by prisoners from San Quentin, all who felt a need to respond.
The conversation at the opening focused on the artists’ creative process and on the relationship of art to activism. Cathy DeForest, Liz Chalfin, Annie Zeybekoglu and Ania Gilmore spoke movingly about their work for the project and kept the large crowd riveted.
To see more photographs of the exhibition, taken by Sura Levine, courtesy of Cathy DeForest, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/127908679@N04/sets/72157655516401848