The Kickstarter campaign “One Hundred Sixty-Eight Hours and One Second,” launched by Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal to raise money for the library at the University of Baghdad’s College of Fine Arts, has fourteen days remaining. But it already has exceeded its modest $9,000 goal by more than $28,000:
Bilal, author of Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun (2008) and known for his political performance art, launched the project in concert with the Art Gallery of Windsor, Canada. On the Kickstarter page, he writes:
During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost their entire library from looters who set fire to the collection. Over 70,000 books were reduced to ashes. To this day, students still have few books from which to study.
168:01 is an installation at the Art Gallery of Windsor featuring a library of blank white books. The white library stands as an austere monument of loss that simultaneously activates a potential for rebirth. Each book in the white library is embedded with the possibility of rebuilding anew from the ashes of cultural decimation.
This wonderfully creative campaign has thus far spurred nearly 700 individual backers. Each backer becomes a part of the rebuilding of the library at the University of Baghdad:
168:01 is a system of exchange, connecting viewers like yourselves directly with the College of Fine Arts to generate a transnational grassroots effort. Your participation in this Kickstarter will fund educational texts from a wish list compiled by faculty at the College of Fine Arts. Each new text will replace a blank white book from the exhibition.
Our goal is to replace all 1,000 blank books in the exhibition with educational texts. At the end of the exhibition, all of the texts will be shipped to the College of Fine Arts in Baghdad, beginning the process of rebuilding their library.
You can find out more about the campaign at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/307933775/one-hundred-sixty-eight-hours-and-one-second.