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Wafaa Bilal, 168:01, 2016. Photo by Gareth Jones.

168:01, 2016

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost their entire library of over 70,000 books. 168:01 serves both as a means to measure this staggering cultural loss and as a platform for its potential repair. The artist asks local and global audiences to help transform this destruction into a fresh start for Iraq’s next generation, by purchasing books from a wishlist compiled by the faculty.

As the installation accrues donations, volunteers replace the blank books with new texts during weekly performances. In doing so, the library’s shelves become saturated with knowledge and vibrancy and the structure becomes a 1:1 scale data visualisation of its own repair, and the success of the campaign. Select donors receive the blank exhibition books in return for their contribution and as a symbol of the void they have helped to rectify. At the end of the exhibition, all donated texts will be shipped to Baghdad.

Courtesy of the artist and The Art Gallery of Windsor. The Liverpool iteration of 168:01 by Wafaa Bilal is co-produced by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and FACT. Transportation partner: Jayhawk.

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