October 18, 2008 - Kunsthaus Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum - Structure en abime. Borges & Aleph
October 18, 2008

Structure en abime. Borges & Aleph

Jorge Luis Borges, Hôtel des Beaux Arts, Paris
Photo: Pepe Fernández, 1969

“Structure en abîme. Borges & Aleph”
Symposium on Six Voices

Curator: Adam Budak
Friday, October 24th, 2008
10am – 6pm

Kunsthaus Graz, Space04
Lendkai 1, A–8020 Graz
T +43-316/8017-9200, F -9212
info [​at​] kunsthausgraz.at


With Olafur Eliasson’s Your Welcome Reflected, Hans Schabus’ The Last Land and Ján Mančuška’s Killer Without a Cause (to mention only a few…), Kunsthaus Graz announces a farewell to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Collection and the Aleph. Hosted for over half a year, the performance-like exhibition has arrived at its final, third phase after a series of twists and reversals that introduced nearly 80 art works into a discursive field, set up by the literary work of Jorge Luis Borges. In the course of this exhibition, the flat labyrinth of Jim Lambie’s “Zobop Gold” received its substantial volume via a generous architectural gesture of the exhibition design’s authors, The nextENTERprise and it was turned into a real labyrinth of Lambie’s own sculptural “Status Quo”, thus concluding a rotational process and the strategy of mirroring at the core of this organic spatial concept.

To celebrate the finissage of the exhibition Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Collection as Aleph, Kunsthaus Graz is staging the symposium Structure en abîme. Borges & Aleph. The symposium unfolds the phenomenon of the overwhelming influence of Borges’ œuvre and it concentrates on the polyphonic nature of the literary legacy of the author of Ficciones. Borges’ groundbreaking, pioneering and prophetic position in discovering new territories not only for literature but also for many other areas of human creativity and knowledge does not cease to intrigue and continues to trigger ever new readings and interpretations. The symposium is yet another venture into the rhizomatic structures of Borges’ storytelling and the geometry of the author’s most crucial symbol, the Aleph – a crystalline site of an infinite cornucopia of images and concepts. It unveils the power and magic of his imagination, the architectural sensitivity and spatial perception, the scientific approach to ontological issues and an overwhelming visual charge of his metaphorical vocabulary. Here, the intertextual labyrinth of references and the Borgesian library of forms are orchestrated by a discursive sextet of individual voices: a writer, an art critic, a scientist, a geographer, an artist, a theorist of literature.


10am – 10:30am/Welcome and Introduction
Peter Pakesch, Director of Kunsthaus Graz
Symposium’s Moderators: Adam Budak, Curator of Kunsthaus Graz and Werner Helmich, Professor of Roman Languages, Karl-Franzens-University Graz

10:30am – 11:15am/Key-note Speech
Beatriz Sarlo
Professor of Argentine Literature at the University of Buenos Aires, author of, amongst others, “Borges, a Writer on the Edge” (1998) and “Tiempo pasado. Cultura de la memoria y giro subjetivo” (2005)

Borges’ Images of the City
Buenos Aires is the starting point of Borges’ images of the city: limit and edge where cultures mix. Borges developed allegorical configurations, especially in three short stories: El Sur, where a street divides past from present, myth from reality, criollo world from Western culture; El inmortal where a city is destroyed and rebuilt in a nightmarish form; The Aleph, as chaos where time and space collapse.

11:15am – 12:00am
Edward W. Soja
Postmodern political geographer and professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the London School of Economics, author of, amongst others, “Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places” (1996), “Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions” (2000)

Borges’ Spatial Eyes
How has Borges’ spatial imagination, especially in The Aleph, fit into the spatial turn that has been taking place throughout the humanities, arts, and social sciences? The lecture will point out relations to the work of Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, and John Berger.

12:00am – 12:45am
Leonardo Moledo
Mathematician and scientific writer, professor at Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos and Quimes Nacional Universities in Argentina and chief editor of Futuro, the scientific supplement of Pagina 12, an Argentine national newspaper. From 2000 to 2007, he was director of Buenos Aires’ Planetarium

Borgesness: A Step Towards the Universe. An Attempt to Embed Science into Literature
In his “fictions” (and in Library of Babel, The Aleph, The Garden of Forking Paths or The Lottery in Babylon especially), Borges writes about all and every single issue of modern science, transforming each one into a literary object. This lecture is going to take a closer look at some of these transformations.

12:45am – 1:00pm/Discussion

3:15pm – 4:00pm
Hans Schabus in a conversation with Elke Krasny
Hans Schabus is an Austrian artist who studied at the Academy of Fine. The central theme of his works is man’s relationship with space. The Last Land was a monumental sculpture he did for the 2005 Venice Biennale, taking the form of a huge mountain sculpture super-imposed on Josef Hoffmann’s listed pavilion. Elke Krasny is an Austrian curator and writer on culture. She teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where her interests focus on the links between architecture, art as public space, urbanism, gender and representation, also museums and exhibitions as cultural formations. She is currently curator of two exhibitions, Architecture Begins in the Head. The Making of Architecture at the Architekturzentrum in Vienna, and City and Women. An Alternative Topography of Vienna at the Vienna Library at the City Hall.

The Last Land
The conversation is a trawl through the gardens of knowledge, the isles of the arts and the pavilions of the nations, raising questions of potential, richly associative transversality and relationality of aesthetics, identity and experience.

4:00pm – 4:45pm
Carlos Gamerro
Prose writer and literary scholar, Gamerro has authored four novels, two collections of short stories and has produced a number of film scripts. His script, Tres de corazones (Three of Hearts) was produced in 2007 as a feature film directed by Sergio Renán. In addition, he has translated Shakespeare, W.H. Auden, Graham Greene and Harold Bloom.

Borges and Baroque
Our ever-growing suspicion that we mistake our representations of the real for reality itself – and vice-versa begins with the Baroque of Cervantes, Calderón and Velázquez. Following in their steps, Jorge Luis Borges gave birth to the Latin American fantastic and modern science fiction, shuttling across the Moebius strip linking fiction and fact, life and art, dreams and waking life, world and theatre, words and things.

4:45pm – 5:30pm
Franz Josef Czernin
Austrian poet and an author of experimental prose, plays, essays and aphorisms. Since 1980, he has been working on the kunst des dichtens project, a lyrical encyclopedia in which he endeavours to integrate all the forms, procedures and themes of poetry in a literary work.

Borges and Metaphor
What Jorge Luis Borges says about metaphor is comparable with what a number of well-known thinkers say on the same subject, for example Donald Davidson (in What Metaphors Mean) and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By), the referential aspect as represented by John Searle and the concept of a “catachretic metaphor”. His pronouncements about metaphors are suggestive and exemplary of all these approaches. This in itself gives an idea of the breadth of Borges’ thinking.

5:30pm – 6:00pm/Final Discussion

All lectures simultaneously translated into German.

Kunsthaus Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum
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