After Action for Another Library
written by Tom Nicholson
Surpllus | ISBN 9780980753646
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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.
The artist’s book After action for another library, with text in English and German, was first produced to coincide with the exhibition of the same name at the Humboldt University, Berlin, 28 August – 3 October 2003. Subsequent editions have been produced for exhibitions in which they are presented as stacks of multiples. The second edition, in English and Italian, was produced for System Error: War is a force that gives us meaning, at Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena in 2007. The third edition (and first Surpllus edition), in English only, was published on the occasion of Art of War, at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, New York, in 2010. The fourth edition, available here, with text in English, Portugese, Timorese and Japanese, was published on the occasion of To the Arts, Citizens!, at Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal, 20 November 2010 – 13 March 2011
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