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At a Glance
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is an arts initiative and an archival collection, conceived as a response to violence and directed at creating shared cultural spaces. The project and the collection were initiated in 2007 following a car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street (the street of the booksellers) in Baghdad, Iraq. As of 2019, the archive holds approximately 260 artists' books, 200 prints, and 100 letterpress broadsides as well as 35 photographs (from the newly launched and related project, Shadow and Light).
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located onsite.
This collection has no restrictions.
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Artists' Books Collection: Companion collection of individually cataloged books. The books from this collection need to be requested individually.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Beau Beausoleil, 2019.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
History / Biographical Note
In 2007, Beau Beausoleil (1941-), poet and bookseller, founded the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition as a response to the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street, the center of bookselling in Baghdad, Iraq. Each participating book artist was asked to complete three books over the course of a year that reflected both the strength and fragility of books, but also showed the endurance of the ideas within them. Coalition members include poets, writers, and artists from many countries, and projects have included broadsides, artists' books, prints, bookmarks, music, photography, and more. The mission of the coalition focuses on the lasting power of the written word and the arts in support of the free expression of ideas and the preservation of shared cultural spaces.
Al Mutannabbi Street Starts Here was exhibited extensively in the U.S. and the U.K. as well as in Baghdad, the American University in Cairo, in Venice, Italy, The Netherlands, and most recently in Sweden. An accompanying anthology of poetry and prose, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, was published by PM Press. An exhibit of work from the related project Shadow and Light was exhibited at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (2019).