The final moment came! On May 18th 2013, The Book of Debts, Vol II, which I have been collecting with for almost a month on the streets, online and in communities around Portslade, went to its fiery grave, with its 68 stories containing £100,134,274 of unpaid debt and a diverse spectrum of immeasurable debts from the financial and practical to the deeply emotional, psychic and social. Some of these still sit on the site as examples for new contributors to draw on.
We are editing footage into a clip and also eventually putting out the full reading of Volume II as an episodic archive, to bridge the last and the next Volume, which is open online and will be burned in Birmingham on October 20th.
Saturday was a powerful evening, a real collective process, both with Gertu and Johanna at Blank, those documenting it and those who filled the book and came to the event (around 45 people.) I enjoyed inhabiting my role and still feel somewhat emptied out and also excited at what is to come, as we try to piece together the narrative of a national tour.
Here are some images.
Here, also, by request, is the text I wrote which was scribed into the walls around the gallery and recited at the start of the evening:
Burning the Books, Recital Part 1
Debt: A sum of money owed. The state of owing money. A feeling of gratitude for a favour or service. An incomplete transaction. A broken agreement. A social interaction. A moral obligation?
Debt as the shadow side of wealth, debt as sin, debt as power, debt as dependence, debt as plot, as promise, as social stigma, debt as dysfunction, as disruption, as secrecy, debt as a Pandora’s Box. Debt as the poison gift, as virus, as pleasure, as freedom, as obscenity, as excess. Debt as a form of slavery, a form of violence, a dead end. Debt as taboo, debt as absurdity,debt as confession of guilt, as a sign of poverty, debt as a sign of wealth, debt as criminality.Debt as progress, and as exchange, debt as interdependence and as the basis for community.
Debt as the basis for revolution: Burn the records, kill the creditors, drown the debtors, redistribute the land. Fear, confession, lament, guilt, purgatory, hell.
Communal reckonings, Biblical Jubilee, mercy, redemption, justice, sacrifice, payback, absolution, forgiveness, reconciliation, relief, gratitude, kindness, understanding, compassion, cleansing, connection, transformation.
Heal the pain, speak the debts, burn the books…
(Alinah Azadeh, 2013 )