Baghdad! Mon Amour
project by t s Beall & Sarah Rifky
 
 

“Almost all of the contents of Iraq’s national Library and archives are reported to have been destroyed, meaning the loss if priceless records of the country’s history.”
BBC News 14 April 2003 Prized Iraqi Annals Lost

Baghdad! Mon Amour, is a collaboration between t s Beall and Sarah Rifky on the looting of the National Museums and Libraries of Baghdad, especially the loss of the catalogued inventory of those institutions, and the way that information and history disappear within violent systems. This research is driven by a desire to understand the implications of the plunder of ancient cultures, the way in which history is written and re-written, and the impact on us as individuals disconnected or dis-located from the physical reality of the war in Iraq.

Central to the project is the certainty of its failure—our failure to accurately record what was lost in the post-invasion plunder, the failure of the US government to protect history, and the failure of language (and objects and history) to convey the endless, circular conflict of violent systems.

Thus far, our inquiry has been based on gathering articles, documents, interviews, and other materials that describe the destruction (and attempted restoration) of the libraries and museums of Baghdad. In addition to these more traditional research methods, our archive includes our own written exchange—letters written by Rifky and Beall to each other that attempt to respond, question, and analyze the material we have gathered.

We have chosen to present an installation and performance in the old Literature Room at Cittadellarte, one empty library to another. This marks the first phase of our investigation.

While the future of this project is still firmly in progress, we would like to publish a book. This will most likely be (an unscientific) collection of visual and literary material culled from our research: lists of missing objects, fragments of what we found, interviews, images, personal dialogues, and diagrams.

The book’s physical appearance will reflect its content: It may be printed on a variety of paper stocks, written over other (primary) texts, and/or be constructed poorly-- so that it quickly comes undone. Submission from others (encountered while doing research) will be encouraged.

Lastly, we would like to propose a series of forums on this subject, inviting experts from a variety of disciplines (archeologists, historians, artists, activists, writers, politicians,…) to discuss issues of loss and history.

“A nation is able to protect its art resources largely in proportion to its ability to plunder others.”
Leon Golub, article: Regarding the Lehman and Rockefeller Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum, first pub. 1963, published in book Do Paintings Bite 1997 Cantz

For further information or materials relating this project write to unideeweb@cittadellarte.it