Wafaa Bilal (IRQ/US)


168:01, 2016 - ongoing

500 blank books; shelving; wishlist. Dimensions variable.


Bilal’s work is informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland of Iraq to the US, and existing simultaneously in two worlds. His provocative online performances and interactive works transform traditionally passive art experiences into active participation. 168:01 is a physical and intellectual embodiment of how online information networks can be reconfigured to more political and personal ends.


Donations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who supported this project.

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.

All books will be purchased through Amazon and shipped to Baghdad at the end of the exhibition from 1 October 2017. Please note, this is not ‘a book for a book’ - all donations outside of the below tiers will be compiled and added together to further restore the archive. Donations can be made in-house or online through the website. Please see below for a full list of benefits. 



£7 – Custom Print. Limited edition A6 print by Jot Paper Co. 

£25 – 1 x Limited edition white book. Book plate signed and numbered.

£50 – 2 x Limited edition white book, A6 print and letter from the curators. Book plate signed and numbered. 


All benefactor names will be added to the Tilo thank you screen weekly in addition to the A5 exhibition panel, which will be updated twice during The New Observatory.


Please note that donations do not include shipping - UK P&P £4, INTL P&P £10.


First set of awards sent out 18th August

Second set sent out at the end of the exhibition.