Library Displays

168:01: An Installation by Wafaa Bilal


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This exhibition commemorates and attempts to ‘repair’ assaults on literature and knowledge in Baghdad.

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Wafaa Bilal created 168:01 in memory and to reclaim historic attacks on the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Both the Siege of Baghdad by a Mongol force in 1258 and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq are highlighted in this work.


A single-installation exhibition from Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal at MIA Library.

The exhibition consists of pristinely white volumes lining library shelves that represent the ancient volumes erased after they were used in the Tigris River as a bridge for the invaders. According to legend, the river ran bluish-black for 7 days – 168 hours – until all the ink had washed from the pages.

The installation asks viewers to both contemplate the immeasurable loss of cultural history caused by conflict, and to participate in its restoration. The title, 168:01, refers to the second after the last drop of ink flowed from the volumes.

Visitors to the installation are invited to contribute to the restoration of the library at the College of Fine Arts in Baghdad, either through the donation of books or through financial support. Participants will be offered a limited-edition Wafaa Bilal title. More information about the project is available on the artist's website.