Beau Beausoleil, founder of the "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here" project, comes to Goddard College to talk about the still open wounds that exist on the cultural and literal body of Iraq.
"The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition is not an anti-war project, nor is it a healing project," says Beausoleil. "The coalition feels that until we truly see what happened on this one small street of booksellers and readers, on this one day in Baghdad, until we understand all the implications of an attack on the printed word and its writers, printers, booksellers and readers, until we see that this is our street, until then, we cannot truly move forward."
Free and open to the public as presented by the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program.
On March 5, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, a car bomb was exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street (the street of the booksellers). A few weeks later, Beau Beausoleil, a poet and bookseller in San Francisco, put together a reading, a call to letterpress printers, and the notion that this attack on a "shared cultural space" should be seen as an attack on us all.
In the last seven years of the Al-Mutanabbi Street project, Beausoleil has been patronized, ignored, and insulted by some of the best known arts organizations in this country. Likewise, the work of this project, and its connection to the Iraqi people and their cultural community, has been attacked as either too political or not political enough.
Curators have, on more than one occasion, tried to separate the ideas of the project from the work it produces (writing, broadsides, artists' books, prints). The project seeks to show that there is room for us all on Al-Mutanabbi Street, and that this same street exists as part of cultural communities worldwide.
Beausoleil is here to listen as well as to speak, seeking active partners/conversations to move the project forward as it addresses the "free exchange of ideas" and the constant efforts of governments and media to dilute, misrepresent, and misdirect what we are actually saying to those who hold or seek power over the lives of others.
The "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here" art exhibit is on display at the Eliot D. Pratt Library Art Gallery from July 4 to October 10, 2014.
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