Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 3, 2013.

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The book tells a story of discovery of a rich and beautiful African intellectual culture that remains largely unknown in the West.

THE PROJECT: 

The goal of this Kickstarter is to raise the funds needed to self-publish a book of photographs on the Islamic scholarship of Timbuktu, Mali. The book tells a story of discovery, unfolding page by page, a rich and beautiful African intellectual culture that remains largely unknown in the West. It is a book about men and women who love books – scholars of all ages who seek knowledge and wisdom through learning. It is about a city that has built its identity around a culture of scholarship.

Five years ago, I lived in Timbuktu, Mali, for ten months in order to research and photograph the city’s scholarly culture. My work was supported by a Fulbright Grant.

I did not have an air-conditioned car in Timbuktu or even a moped. Instead, I developed my calf muscles by walking on sand (Timbuktu has only one paved street). I wore long pants, long sleeves, and a bandana over my head to protect myself from the sun and sand and to adapt, in part, to a culture where grown women almost always wear something over their hair. I carried a canteen and my camera, and I learned to navigate the medina by watching the shadows during the day and the movement of Orion at night. I learned to always say and think In Sha’Allah, the Arabic phrase meaning “God willing,” which gave me patience and understanding when my interviews, or my health, or my photographs weren’t going as well as I would like. I got dysentery and countless colds. They say the sand of Timbuktu is blessed by the city’s 333 saints, but the open sewers and piles of burning trash made me wonder. Like any traveler I got ripped off in countless tiny ways, but I also benefited from boundless generosity.

At 5:30am, during the majlis of Shaykh Moulay Ahmed, Hamou (center R) reads the Hadith in Arabic and Imam Sidi Lamine (center L) comments on the text in Songhay, one of the local African languages.
At 5:30am, during the majlis of Shaykh Moulay Ahmed, Hamou (center R) reads the Hadith in Arabic and Imam Sidi Lamine (center L) comments on the text in Songhay, one of the local African languages.

It is difficult to fully express my gratitude to the people of Timbuktu, who welcomed me into their homes, schools, and ceremonies. The years I’ve been working on this book are the best measure I can take of it. Almost every marabout, imam, alpha-woye, and craftsman I asked let me watch and photograph their work. Some spent many hours with me in interviews. They put up with my youth and my ignorance.

I gained a deep respect for the history and traditions of Timbuktu and a healthy skepticism for one of the most sinister truisms of the twentieth century: that tradition and social and economic development are incompatible. I saw that it was love and respect for one’s own culture that gave the greatest strength, adaptability, and creativity in the face of change.

A few of the 7,000 manuscripts in the Fondo Kati Library await shelving.
A few of the 7,000 manuscripts in the Fondo Kati Library await shelving.

THE BOOK: 

Although I took thousands of photographs during my months in Timbuktu, this book focuses very specifically on the city’s ancient culture of Islamic scholarship. The book’s concise presentation reveals a world that is largely unknown in the West: a deeply rooted, ancient Islamic tradition of tolerance, erudition, and faith.

Title: 333 Saints: Life and Scholarship in Timbuktu 

Photographs: 37 (including cover) 

Other Text: quotes, captions, postscript 

Language: English and French!! 

Imprint: Kyoudai Press. You can find out more about my imprint on the WordPress site: http://kyoudaipress.wordpress.com/ 

Medium: Hardcover – The books will be printed in Iceland by a printer that specializes in art books. 

Colors: The selected photographs include both color and black and white images. 

Size: (currently) 6” by 9” 

Number of copies: 400 to 500 (depending on the interest shown and how much money I raise!) 

Year printed: 2013 

All books pre-ordered through this Kickstarter will be signed and dated by me! If you pledge $15 or more, your name will appear on the ‘Thank You’ page in the book. 

If you would like to see more of the photographs from this project, please check out this 5 minute video on how my photographs relate to the current crisis in Mali:

or view this portfolio: http://www.alexandrahuddleston.com/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=1 

[Not all of the photographs on these two websites appear in the book.]

Cover Photograph of “333 Saints: a Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu”
Cover Photograph of “333 Saints: a Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu”

THE KICKSTARTER: 

Why have I decided to raise the funds to make the book through Kickstarter? 

As many of you know, printing a high-quality, full-color photography book is expensive. Quite frankly, I can’t afford to make this book happen without your help! 

Moreover, by raising the funds through Kickstarter, I get a chance to offer my supporters special deals on prints, as well as special edition items that are only available now. 

So, what is a ‘Kickstarter Edition’?

Under the pledge options, you will find 2 ‘Kickstarter Editions.’ One is a small (8” by 10” paper size), archival, ink-jet print of the photograph that graces the cover of the book [see “Grand Level Supporter”] – an image of the photograph begins this section. The other is a small, hand-made book of night photographs taken during my time in Timbuktu [see “Timbuktu By Night Supporter”].

The size of these editions will be limited to the number of backers that pledge at a level high enough to receive these incentives. These two items will not be offered in this form again!

Moreover, I have decided to offer the photograph ‘Mawlid Women by Night’ at a special price in both its small and large limited edition formats [see “Featured Print of ‘Mawlid Women by Night’ Supporter – Small Size” and “Featured Print of ‘Mawlid Women by Night’ Supporter – Large Size”] – an image of this photograph ends this section.

I’m excited about making these prints and books and getting them out to you!

Lastly, I’ve run one successful Kickstarter campaign before. The process seemed to work well for me and for my backers, so I decided to try again, this time with a more ambitious project. Please do check out my previous Kickstarter and the collaborative artists’ book it created here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101472817/lost-things-limited-edition-artists-book

You can learn more about me from my bio, as well as my various project websites: 

Portfolio Site: http://www.alexandrahuddleston.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alexhuddle 

Newsletter Blog: http://electiveaffinitiesphoto.wordpress.com/ 

333 Saints Under Threat Video: http://333saints.wordpress.com/ 

Kyoudai Press Site: http://kyoudaipress.wordpress.com/ 

Kyoudai Press Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KyoudaiPress?ref=hl

Featured Print: ‘Mawlid Women by Night’
Featured Print: ‘Mawlid Women by Night’

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

If everything goes smoothly, In Sha’Allah, the final PDF will be ready to send to the printer in early July. It will take a couple of months for them to make the books and send them from Iceland, and it will also take me a couple of months to get all the other prints and goodies together. That is why I’m estimating a delivery date of mid-September.

However, there are a lot of moving parts involved in this project. I’m working with my own schedule and deadlines, with the translators, and with the printer and shipping companies.

This is the largest publishing project I’ve taken on so far! As such, although I’ve researched the process and asked for lots of advice from experienced colleagues, miscalculations in the timing could occur…Or, one or more of the parties involved might develop unforeseen circumstances that I’ll have to take into account…And, there’s always that invisible nightmare called ‘technical difficulties’ (especially involving computer equipment) that lingers as a shadow over any project!

Hopefully, all will go well. However, be assured that at all stages, I’ll keep you updated on my progress with informative and entertaining backer reports!

Thank you.

Alexandra Huddleston
alex@alexandrahuddleston.com

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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    20 backers

    “Official Supporter” You have become an Official Supporter of the “333 Saints” book project! Your name will be listed in the book as a supporter and you will receive a “333 Saints” postcard.

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    130 backers

    “Get Me The Book! Supporter” You will receive a signed copy of the hardcover photography book, “333 Saints: A Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu” + the rewards of an “Official Supporter!” -- If you would like more than one book, add $45 for each additional book (maximum of 10).

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    22 backers

    “Grand Level Supporter” You will receive a signed, limited ‘Kickstarter Edition’ print of the black and white photograph that graces the cover of the book (8” by 10” paper size) + a signed copy of the book + the rewards of an “Official Supporter!” -- If you would like more than one book, add $45 for each additional book (maximum of 10).

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    12 backers

    “Timbuktu By Night Supporter” You will receive a signed, limited ‘Kickstarter Edition’ of a hand-made book of photographs of Timbuktu by Night (shot by me, of course!) + all the rewards of a “Grand Level Supporter!”

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    4 backers Limited (1 left of 5)

    “Featured Print of ‘Mawlid Women by Night’ – Small Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of the photograph ‘Mawlid Women by Night’: image size: 12” by 8”/ paper size 19” by 13” (Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!”

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    “Other Limited Edition Print – BW Small Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of your choice of any of the black and white photographs in the book, “333 Saints”: image size: 12” by 9.5”/ paper size 19” by 13”(For Every Print: Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!” – Please describe the print of your choice in the ‘notes’ section.

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    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    “Other Limited Edition Print – COLOR Small Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of your choice of any of the color photographs in the book, “333 Saints”: image size: 12” by 8”/ paper size 19” by 13" (For Every Print: Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!” – Please describe the print of your choice in the ‘notes’ section.

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    “Featured Print of ‘Mawlid Women by Night’ – Large Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of the photograph ‘Mawlid Women by Night’: image size: 18.75” by 12.5”/ paper size 22” by 17” (Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!”

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    “Other Limited Edition Print – COLOR, Large Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of your choice of any of the color photographs in the book, “333 Saints”: COLOR: image size: 18.75” by 12.5”/ paper size 22” by 17” (For Every Print: Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!” – Please describe the print of your choice in the ‘notes’ section.

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    “Other Limited Edition Print – BW, Large Size” You will receive a limited edition, archival, ink-jet print of your choice of any of the black and white photographs in the book, “333 Saints”: BW: image size: 30” by 23.5”/ paper size 36” by 29.5” (For Every Print: Edition of 5 with 2 artist’s proofs) + all the rewards of a “Timbuktu By Night Supporter!” – Please describe the print of your choice in the ‘notes’ section.

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