Nov. 16 – Dec. 31, 2017
Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center
Aimed at restoring the roughly 70,000 books lost to looting and fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wafaa Bilal’s 168:01 mourns the loss of the College of Fine Arts Library at the University of Baghdad. The site-specific installation, organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Windsor, positions viewers as potential participants who can choose to donate educational texts to the Fine Arts Library.
The installation becomes a system of exchange where art objects are traded for academic texts. Visitors are encouraged to donate books from the university’s wish list to help rebuild the library collection. Each participant who donates a book to the exhibition receives a white book in return — a symbol of the void that they have helped to fill and as a reminder of their contribution.
A successful crowdfunding campaign started in 2015 has propelled 168:01 to Kickstarter Gold status. The project has been expanded from its original form in 2015 to include a complete renovation of the library space, using locally sourced materials and labor. Volunteer architect Wei Cai has developed a design that will house the donated books and provide communal reading space for students and faculty. At the end of this exhibition, all donated books from the exchange will be shipped to the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad.