Al-Mutanabbi
Street Broadsides
  Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition project
––one of only ten in the world––

Broadside for the second call, 2008/Katib+Katib

 Artist's Statement

I became interested in Iraq when a journalist friend and I began talking about politics behind the ‘war’ that could not be published openly. But I was shocked and appalled when the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street occurred. As my friend would say, “It takes careful planning to design the sort of indiscriminacy that induces fear into a population”, with the sort of knowing nod and raised eyebrow that would tell nothing, but suggest a closer look at the details would perhaps alter our perspective, cast a different shadow.

For my piece, I read many of the accounts and responses to the bombing. I began to write, inspired by a historical tale of another assault on the same area centuries ago by indiscriminate marauding forces, when the river Euphrates was said to have run first red with the blood of the slaughtered, and then black with the ink from the books, libraries and publishing houses cast into the river. Thinkers are often resented by oppressors and have always suffered, particularly if they are vocal in their criticism. The written word can proclaim at least as loudly as any street corner protester when the chord struck by the words on the paper resonates within a population. Al-Mutanabbi Street has a long history and a strong reputation. Like the river that runs through it, it’s roots run deep and long. It survives and therefore inspires hope. I wanted my piece to have this quality. Like a prayer to commemorate and give hope. I also wanted it to be simple. The John Bull typeface and the silhouetted feather afloat on a red background reflect images from the poem.