Omar Al-Mukhtar Liberty Banger
2010. Object and interactive text made for Snowball Editions.com.
10 Dinar note, #3A-14 905355, 1984 (depicted version) Socialist People's Libyan Arab Great Jamahiriya, Central Bank of Libya,
folded into an origami banger. 6,5 cm x 6,5 cm x variable.
We will never surrender. We win or we die. We will have the next generation to fight and after the next, the next. As for me, I will live longer than my hangmen. Soon you will take everything from me, and you want me to justify your thefts. Your money is like your glory, it is not permanent.
- Omar Al-Mukhtar (1858 – 1931)
If, in order to remember a not exactly edifying piece of history previously removed from public memory, a nation needs the visit of an extremely fishy dictator who looks like Gene Simmons, dresses like a clown, walks around with an escort of uniformed women you don’t see even in a Capcom videogame, and has an old photograph pinned to his jacket, well, that nation is really in a bad state.
- Wu Ming’s blog -
Libyan resistance leader Omar Al-Mukhtar’s nearly twenty-year struggle against Italian military occupation came to an end on September 11, 1931, when he was wounded in battle and captured by the Italian army. On September 16, 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with the hope that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar was hanged by the Italian Fascists in front of his followers in the concentration camp of Solluqon. Today his face appears on the Libyan 10 Dinar note.
On June 10, 2009, Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi arrived in Rome for his first visit to Italy, with the famous picture of Omar Al-Mukhtar's arrest pinned to his lapel. Wearing a full colonel's uniform with gold epaulettes, numerous medals, sunglasses and straggly long black hair beneath a military cap, he embraced Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Mukhtar's frail elderly son descended the aircraft in traditional white Arab robes just steps behind Gaddafi as part of the 300-strong delegation.
On August 30, 2008, Gaddafi and Berlusconi signed a historic cooperation treaty in Benghazi. Under its terms, Italy will pay $5 billion to Libya as compensation for its former colonial occupation. In exchange, Libya will take measures to combat “illegal immigration”coming from its shores and will boost investments in Italian companies.
Omar Al-Mukhtar’s final years were depicted in the movie Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Irene Papas. Italian authorities banned the film in 1982, claiming that it was "damaging to the Italian Army's honour". It was broadcast for the first time on Italian television on June 11, 2009, during Gaddafi’s visit in Italy.