I developed Witness from a New York Times article that described the bombing of Baghdad’s historic street of booksellers during the American occupation of Iraq in 2007. I started by running the text of the original article through every language available on Google Translate, then printed out the new and transformed pages. Albanian, Esperanto, Georgian, Malay and Serbian descriptions of the massacre now lived side by side with pages in French, Italian and Thai. Next, I hand-cut each page into the shape of my own hand, sewed on hand-twisted book cords, then charred, dirtied and dyed the pages to emulate the books that survived the bombing. In our age of constant, instant news and global distribution, we are all witnesses; and, accepting the maxim that there are no innocent witnesses, all morally complicit to the extent we choose to look away or fail to act.
This book was created for the Al Mutanabi Artist Book Project. You can learn more about the exhibition here.