Dafatir: Comtemporary Iraqi Book Art
Dafatir: Contemporary Iraqi Book Art is a groundbreaking and thought-provoking traveling exhibition curated by Nada Shabout of the University of North Texas. It features the work of 17 contemporary Iraqi artists, and is the first in-depth examination of the book form in contemporary Iraqi art.
Dafatir is the Arabic word for notebooks. As Venetia Porter, curator for the Islamic Collections at the British Museum, writes in the exhibition catalog (available for a $25 donation to the JCBA):
"This important exhibition of Dafatir--artists' books--could also have been called Seventeen Ways of Looking at Iraq. For the seventeen Iraqi artists whose Dafatir are highlighted here have chosen the form of the book to do just that. They focus on themes which express Arab and Iraqi identities and demonstrate concern for the present ruin of their homeland. There are books of poems and disturbing works which chronicle the last tragic years of Iraqi history: the Saddam years, the effect of sanctions during the 1990s, and after 2003, the continuing human suffering, and the physical destruction of the places which contain the tangible roots of Iraqi identity and culture.
"...The remarkable aspect of these Dafatir is that they enable us to look at history directly through the eyes of these artists. The importance the artists place on literature, the deep love of their country and the evident pain they feel at the ravages it is still undergoing are evident for all to see in these deeply compelling works."