November 14, 2018 - Servico Social do Comercio - Sesc - Alberto Manguel and Robert Lepage: The Library at Night
November 14, 2018

Servico Social do Comercio - Sesc

Photo: Erika Mayumi.

Alberto Manguel and Robert Lepage
The Library at Night
October 3, 2018–February 10, 2019

SESC Avenida Paulista
Av. Paulista, 119
São Paulo-

The Avenida Paulista unit of Sesc São Paulo is currently holding the immersive exhibition The Library at Night, with support from Institut Français, the French Embassy, the General Consulate of Canada and the Québec Office. This huge work consists of a proposal experienced in virtual reality, inspired in the literary work of writer Alberto Manguel (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1948) and conceived by theater director, writer and actor Robert Lepage (Québec, Canada, 1957).

The exhibition’s conception and realization has also relied on the performing arts company Ex Machina (Canada, since 1994), active in various theatrical, scenographic and multimedia productions. The exhibition was created for its first presentation on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the National Library and Archives of Québec, in January 2016. In 2017, the work was also shown at the National Library of France, and is now arriving in Brazil.

Conceptually and thematically, it is an international exhibition—an immersive scenographic and virtual experience—dedicated to the poetic, artistic, historical and philosophical universe of libraries. In the show, it is possible to visit ten real, reconstituted or fictional libraries from different historical moments and various corners of the world. The spectator is invited to a virtual visit to these libraries, getting to know the spaces of the Vasconcelos Library of Mexico City, strolling through the emblematic and mythical Library of Alexandria, and even venturing into the submarine world of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, on a visit to the library of Captain Nemo.

The first space of interaction with the public is the French library of Alberto Manguel himself, where the visitor becomes acclimatized. The second environment is within a large forest. Here, the most significant sensorial experiences take place, as the spectator is dichotomically confronted with the intensity of a forest teeming with trees coupled with the rigorous organization characteristic of libraries. It is in this context that the public is invited to don the three-dimensional video headsets, exploring the technology known as 3D 360° VR. At this moment, the spectator dives into the experience of virtual reality and can then move through the institutions.

From different times and places, they are: the Admont Abbey Library, in Austria; the Hase-dera Temple, in Japan; the library of the Nautilus, straight out of the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; the National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Sarajevo; the mythical and historical version of the Library of Alexandria; Vasconcelos Library, in Mexico City; the Royal Library of Denmark, in Copenhagen; the Library of Parliament in Ottawa; the Sainte-Geneviève Library, in Paris; and the Library of Congress, in Washington DC.

During the process of creation, from the literature to the exhibition, the authors worked with the idea that libraries are like forests, which should be entered with respect and in silence. In this context, it is the movement of the visitor’s eyes that define the path to be taken. Alberto Manguel understands the library as an epiphany, which is also reinvigorated by the imaginary experience of the installation. As described by Danilo Santos de Miranda, director of Sesc in São Paulo, libraries are “unlimited sources of information, enigmas of history and multiple fields of knowledge, spaces that seem to reveal and conceal simultaneously.”

Besides the educational actions, in its new context the project also involves a series of parallel activities that will take place throughout the run of the show, including artistic interventions and performances linked to the theme of the exhibition. Through their involvement of various languages and areas of knowledge, these initiatives refer to the multiple and interdisciplinary identity of Sesc São Paulo’s program of exhibitions. The programming moreover includes a series of courses, lectures and workshops, all focused on the world of libraries and books, ranging from the manufacture of the publications to the social history of this theme in Latin America.

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10:30am–9pm, Sunday 10:30am–8:30pm
Admission free

Servico Social do Comercio - Sesc
Share - Alberto Manguel and Robert Lepage
The Library at Night
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York