I am now part of the global print portfolio, Al Mutanabbi Street Project. I'm honored to be invited into a prestigious portfolio! Through this piece, I want to express a space in between memory of the past, and opportunity to rebuild the future.
Here is my piece, After/Thought
Medium: Woodcut on Arches paper
Size: 11" X 15"
After/Thought is a reminder that the physical destruction of literature, cafes, and social spaces do not destroy the innate desire for creative storytelling and the interchange of ideas.
The inspiration for After/Thought is the effects of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad on March 5, 2007, which claimed the lives of thirty people and wounding one hundred. The bombing is also symbolic due to the location on Al-Mutanabbi Street, an iconic outdoor market of booksellers and cafes that is central to Baghdad's culture. To target such an area is not only an attack on individuals, but an attack on Baghdad's culture, lifestyle, history, narratives, and the promotion of free thought.
Printing with white ink on white paper ("white on white" technique) represents a memory of Al- Mutanabbi Street as it was before the bombing while at the same time suggesting a vision of reconstruction. The pages are blank to receive whatever idea you would hope to find within the books for sale on Al-Mutanabbi Street.
The process of the white on white technique in relief printmaking is significant because lines that describe forms are carved away on the woodblock, suggesting the disappearance of a city block. White ink prints the negative space to draw attention a cultural void. The bookshelves in the market have a feeling of once being present in space and the possibility of appearing again.
What matters today is the continual presence of texts, imagery, stories, and a place within Iraqi culture that facilitates the free exchange of such mediums. After/Thought is a dedication to the memory of Al-Mutanabbi Street and the contemplation of new ideas.
The Al- Mutanabbi Street Coalition appeals to me because the movement uses printmaking, letterpress, and other mediums to draw attention to the importance of the arts in Iraqi Society. Printmaking and Letterpress are especially appropriate for the Al-Mutanabbi Coalition because the bombing of Al- Mutanabbi Street destroyed countless books, so creating artwork in the same medium is another way of healing and rebuilding the words and images that are gone. A common theme throughout my work is finding comfort in the in-between points of life. The rebuilding of Al- Mutanabbi Street is a narrative that fits within this theme of reconstruction.