'Smell the Coffee'
On the 5th March 2007 30 people died and over a 100 injured
In June 2012, I read of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Project calling for book artists, to make three books in response to the bombing of al-Mutanabbi street in March 2007. In the heart of the historic centre of the book sellers of Baghdad, 30 people were killed and over a 100 people injured.
I felt compelled to take part, however my first response to this artist's book project was how do I understand something that happened in a place so far away, with a culture that at first felt so different from mine.
To begin with I felt completely overwhelmed by the impossibility of it all. The enormity of it was also compounded by my then limited experience in making artists books.
Al-Mutanabbi Street was the heart and soul of the literary and intellectual community where people would come to look at and buy books that were displayed out on the streets in front of the shops, where cafes, stationers and printers could also be found in this district.
When I thought about my own local community of coffee shops, book sellers and print shops, I felt I had a way in, and began collecting tea-bags and coffee filters as well as asking other people to bring me relevant products from coffee shops they had visited such as napkins and plastic stirrers.
I began assembling these items, using A5 white envelopes as my background and page size. Wrapping up the tea bags and coffee filters that bore a resemblance to bodies wrapped in shrouds carried aloft through the streets, that one often sees on television news footage. I planned to make 30 'tea-bag bodies' which could represent the 30 who had died.
My first intention was to make 130 collages, but times three, to be completed by December 2012 began to feel an impossibility. One solution was to photograph them and produce a 'blur' book, but I dismissed this idea, plus I reread the original brief which asked that people did not use items that would hold up the books going through customs.
Part of my experimentation had involved the re-using of tea-bags and coffee filters. Glued down and varnished with some burnt umber paint rubbed in. I liked the leather like quality this produced and so these used tea-bags and coffee filters became the covers for the coffee filter books. With coffee filters torn into four sections becoming the pages of the book.
I liked this simpler version of the book, the dark stains of the coffee filters looking not unlike burnt edges.
SMELL THE COFFE
My morning ritual.
One cup of coffee.
Fine ground and filtered.
Not to be hurried.
In quiet contemplation.
Thinking and reading.
Each coffee filter dried slowly.
The marks and stains unique,
Like people, every where.