Debt – like love – is a source of human drama and can both make and break social, personal and political bonds. Many of the wars in human history have arisen from – or been manufactured out of – debtor/creditor conflicts or agreements, and yet this is often the hidden agenda, lurking beneath a moral or political stance.
Burning the Books was an idea for a project that I felt compelled to make once, and never thought I would repeat. Arising from personal experiences, it changed the course of my life and work. It began in 2011 in Liverpool and will end in May 2015.
I create one Book of Debts per location, inviting the public to (anonymously) contribute entries – in person or online. These form the basis of a public recital of The Book, unique to each place, which is then ceremoniously burned. Entries range from unpaid corporate taxes, lost lives, social or political injustices, ecological damage, family feuds and missed opportunities – to numerous debts of gratitude for acts of generosity, kindness or courage.
I invite you to contribute to The Book of Debts, VIII and to consider what is in your – or our – book of human accounts? Money, rights, lives, time, love, attention? Shame, regret, anger, injustice? Who owes what to whom? Do all debts have to be repaid? How do you repay a debt that is not financial? The Book has been related to in several different ways: as a political provocation, as a form of Jubilee (the periodical forgiveness of debts found in Holy Books) and as a source of healing for past hurts, bordering on the therapeutic. Whatever you think it is, I offer it to you as a playful way of deepening your understanding of this often confusing yet powerful subject – and the role it plays in both our consciences and communities. With increased understanding comes increased compassion, the antidote to conflict itself.
Alinah Azadeh, September 2014
To contribute to The Book of Debts,VIII, write in The Book at IWMN or contribute via this site before November 20th when The Book will be recited and burned at 5.30pm outside the Museum, at the end of the ATM14 Symposium. You can also meet Alinah in the museum with The Book of Debts on November 17/18th, 11.30 -12.30 and 2-4pm.