What do you think about – when you think about debt?

Burning the Books is a live, touring project using metaphor and narrative to explore the deep moral power that debt seems to exert on individuals and society in general. It is one artistic approach to narrating the socio-economic crisis at a human level. Acting as confessor, scribe and collector, the artist produces one Book of Debts per location, (currently at Volume VIII) carried through a range of public spaces, venues and communities – and open online – inviting the public to contribute debt stories of any kind, whether financial emotional, social, political, ecological or metaphysical. At the end of each residency the Book, full of stories, comments, reflections, is recited aloud and burned in an imaginary writing off of everything owed.

Raising questions around accountability, social justice, equality, conflict, conscience and forgiveness, the project offers a moment to reflect on and engage in a broader dialogue about debt than the one on offer in mainstream media. It questions stigmas and opens up the relationship between financial debt and other less measurable forms such as emotional, psychic, ecological and social debt.

Read recent article in the Guardian and radio interview on BBC Womans Hour

Partners & Credits

Artist / Servant of The Book: Alinah Azadeh

Tour producer: Elizabeth Lynch. (R+D Producer: Andrew Mitchelson)

Firekeeper: Lex Titterington

Digital: The Swarm (sound: David Thomas)

Hosting partners 2014 : Imperial War Museum North (Asia Triennial Manchester), Fabrica Gallery (Brighton), Future Dreaming (Lewes) Jubilee Debt Campaign (Life Before Debt Conference, SOAS), Duckie @ Royal Vauxhall Tavern (London), Birmingham Library and Cathedral. (2013: Fierce Festival, Blank Studios, Portslade, Institute of Social Psychology, LSE)

Mentor: Ju Row Farr of Blast Theory

Photos:  Mark Loudoun (Liverpool), courtesy Giving into Gift. Sogand Bahram (Portslade), Lilian Simonsson (Lewes), Cristina Pedreira (Urban Dialogues), Joel Chester Fildes (Imperial War Museum/Asia Triennial Manchester 2014)

Funded by: Arts Council England (GFA / National Touring), Serve-All Trust and hosting partners

Gratitude to: The ‘Circle of Supporters’ for their insightful perspectives and input, both practical and philosophical, especially Aladin. Special thanks to  Tim Jeeves / Giving into Gift for initial spark and curatorial inspiration.