Cities Under Quarantine

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The Mailbox Project

Project conceived and curated by Abed Al Kadiri

In his book Ingres and Other Parables, John Baldessari wrote “it’s difficult to put a painting in the mailbox.” His desire to create hand-held art to be viewed outside gallery walls was integral to his practice with artist’s books.

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Since the Coronavirus outbreak escalated into a global pandemic, artists have found deeper meaning in their personal spaces and studios – not just as places of production but as sanctuaries and safe spaces. We see a desire to engage artistically with many of our friends around the world who all now find themselves creating art from home, even with the most limited of materials.

In light of such drastic closure of all art institutions, museums and airports, we have begun to question what our collective spaces can offer us as we stay apart together. What could Dongola, not just as publishers, but as believers in the power of artistic connection encourage through our peers?

This shift to the intimate and personal reminds us now, more than ever, that an artist’s book will always be an essential practice expressive of and responsive to the world around us in extraordinary times.

And so, it is for these reasons that we have decided to reach out to many friends scattered in different cities through handmade, hand-stitched books created and designed in-house by Abed Al Kadiri. The books were made with the highest commitment to aseptic conditions possible and are being mailed to all the artists invited to speculate on our present and shared future through the creation of their own artist’s books.

It is an invitation to join us in thinking along the same lines, through a practice we have dedicated ourselves to for the past few years. We believe in the relevance of the artist’s book today, now more than ever.

A compilation of the completed work will be published as a limited-edition book by Dongola upon the project’s completion and will hopefully be exhibited in the future.

The notebooks were shipped to 59 artists.



(Oct-Mar 2023)

Cities Under Quarantine – The Mailbox Project” opened at Mathaf, Doha, Qatar in October 2023. This exhibition was the first time all 53 completed artist’s books were shown together.

(Sep-Dec 2021)

Cities Under Quarantine – The Mailbox Project” opened at Villa Romana, Florence, Italy in September 2021. The exhibition had 4 editions, with each showcasing the work of 15 artists! For our Villa Romana exhibit we were joined by three new artists: Musa Michelle Mattiuzzi, Margherita Moscardini, and Francesca Banchelli.

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