Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal is using an exhibit in Windsor, Ont., to resurrect a Baghdad Library

National Post
Fri, Feb 5, 2016

In the long history of cultural destruction caused by war in Iraq, the Art Gallery of Windsor, Ont., is the unlikely setting for a project of renewal.

Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal hopes to restock a library that was set on fire in Baghdad in 2003. His plan is surprisingly indirect: he’s created book-like objects filled with blank white pages and will exchange them for real books that the library needs.

To make this work he’s counting on help from visitors to his new exhibition.

“Wafaa Bilal: 168:01” will feature a 12-meter-long shelf of Bilal’s meticulously designed empty books — about 1,000 altogether.

During the 10-week exhibition, these will gradually be replaced with art textbooks purchased with funds raised in a Kickstarter campaign. The new books will subsequently be shipped to the University of Baghdad’s College of Fine Arts.

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