John Packer
John Packer


This is a blog about the bookmark project that is a recent expression of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, an international coalition of more than 600 writers and artists who have made work reflecting on the bombing of the bookseller’s quarter of Baghdad in March 2007. If you are not already familiar with the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, you can read about it here.

On 19 July 2014, Beau Beausoleil e-mailed every member of the Coalition:

… Someone told me recently how helpless they felt in the face of all this [the news from the Middle East], how confused and weak they felt, trying to make art that matters, that changes anything. I understand that feeling completely, and still often feel it myself.

He made a few suggestions for action, including this one:

Print up a bookmark that says, “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” and paste/post it up at your local bus stop, university, gallery, library, publisher, book shop, cafe …

I started to make bookmarks and e-mailed a couple of images to Beau.
On 1 August Beau wrote to me:

… your note about the bookmarks prompted me to send out my note to everyone. I actually saw you doing this as I wrote about bookmarks in that project update a few weeks back. Now four other people have written me and the Arab-British Centre in London is going to put out a call for others to make bookmarks as well.
It’s our first street action, albeit within the quiet interiors of arts-related spaces!

On 15 August Beau wrote to us all:

We are slowly making our way into the bookmark project, and we now have 15 members contributing in solo or collaborative efforts. I’d like to get somewhere near 100 project members involved since that would mean that we would have several thousand bookmarks in circulation around the globe.
… Here’s a favorite quote of mine from Gandhi

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

If you’d like to add your mark, have a look at the Guidelines page.


Ama Bolton

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