On April 7, 2007, I read an article in The Washington Post about Saad
Eskander, who was the director of the Iraq National Library and Archive in
Baghdad. It was about his struggle to maintain the Library despite looting
and violence. He calls the Library “the historical memory of the country.”
In the newspaper story, Mr Eskander was at work on March 5, when a bomb
exploded about 500 meters away in al-Mutanabi Street (named after one of the
greatest Arab poets, and part of a very old quarter of the city). This area
was the intellectual heart of Baghdad, where publishers, printers, and
booksellers had their shops. It was a place Mr Eskander had often gone to buy books
for himself or the National Library. He later learned that at least 26 people
had been killed by the car bomb, including a bookseller he knew, and at least
100 people were injured.
His diary entry for March 5th (published via the British Library’s
This day will be always remembered, as the day when books were assassinated
by the forces of darkness, hatred and fanaticism … Tens of thousands of
papers were flying high, as if the sky was raining books, tears and
blood … Some of the papers were burning in the sky.
I fear for the children of Iraq. What can their future hold, if even books -
repositories of knowledge - are targets of mindless destruction? Imagine a
world where all the pages are blank.
Is this scene unfinished, or unraveling?
22” H x 17” W
Cotton fabric, black organza, paper, color pencil, ink, paint
Edges are unbound, cut, and raveling (neutral background is not part of the
This is the seventh artwork in my “Dog Envy” political series. After the 2004 presidential election, I looked at my greyhound Gold Dust, lying on the floor
in the sun, and was envious of his obliviousness. That moment initiated a long series of
politically-inspired quilts. Gold Dust became my ‘everyman’, the average citizen, a common patriot.