After action for another library, 2007

Traces of an action over two years: stack of 5,000 artist books; four black and white lambda prints, each 135 x 110cm.

Exh.: System error: War is a force that gives us meaning, curated by Lorenzo Fusi and Naeem Mohaiemen, also including Alfredo Jaar, Chris Marker, Walid Raad, Lebbeus Woods, Chris Koji Naka, Rheim AlKadhi, Yara el-Sherbini, Chaleerat Ngamchalee, Jackie Salloum, Christopher Moukarbel, Usman Haque, Joe Sacco, Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Jon Haddock, Tom Nicholson, Paul D.Miller aka DJ Spooky, Richard Dedomenici, Meir Gal, Negativland, Damir Niksic, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, 3 February-6 May 2007.

On 30 August 1999 East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to become an independent nation in a ballot sponsored by the UN. Following the announcement of the result, occupying Indonesian troops carried out systematic destruction throughout East Timor. Within two weeks several thousand civilians were murdered (a precise number is unknown), 200,000 were forcibly transported to concentration camps in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, and most significant infrastructure was destroyed.

Books were targeted for destruction. Libraries were systematically burned, amongst them the widely-used university library and the English library in Dili. Private collections of books were targeted, and in notable cases book collections of prominent intellectuals and independence activists were collected on the street where they were publicly set alight. In villages, schools were systematically destroyed. Action for another library was established in Melbourne in response to these circumstances. Thousands of books were donated by bookstores, libraries, and individuals. They were shipped to Dili in containers where they now form part of the nascent National University Library of East Timor. The title pages of some books were photographed before the books were sent to East Timor, and these photographs form the basis of the artist book After action for another library. 5,000 of these books were amassed into a stack from which visitors to the exhibition were invited to take a copy.

An earlier form of the artist book, After action for another library, was produced to coincide with the exhibition of an earlier form of the work at the Humboldt University in Berlin in 2003.

Traces of the project were also shown at Pier2/3, as part of the 15th Biennale of Sydney, a reworking of the traces of the project which prompted the publication of 'The Practice of Action', an exchange between Dr Charles Merewether, Artistic Director and Curator of the Biennale, and Tom Nicholson.

Background on the history of East Timor leading up to After action for another library.

Credits for After action for another library.


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