May 16, 2008 - Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island - At Centre international d’art et du paysage
May 16, 2008

At Centre international d’art et du paysage

Thomas Hirschhorn, Restore Now

Exhibition open to the public through June 15, 2008

Centre international d’art et du paysage
île de Vassivière
87120 île de Vassivière – France

The Artist’s Library, curated by Carrie Pilto, transforms the archetypal exhibition spaces of Aldo Rossi’s Centre international d’art et du paysage (the Bookshop, the Nave, the Little Theatre, the Reading Room, the Tower…) into a Borgesian ‘Library of Babel’. The library as cosmos becomes a center for creation and destruction, for the continual recycling of forms and ideas, and for the artist’s never-ending quest for knowledge. Spectators become its librarians – arcane individuals seeking the ultimate book, revelation,
or Truth.

Key works from nine artists – Carol Bove, Claire Fontaine, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Thomas Hirschhorn, Nina Katchadourian, Joseph Kosuth, Maria Pask, Martha Rosler Library publications and Peter Wüthrich – invite the viewer to enter their respective worlds using books as fuel for their creativity. As described by Michel Foucault, we come to see how ‘dreams are no longer summoned with eyes closed, but in reading; and a true image is now a product of learning.’

In prologue, the bookshop permutes into an exhibition space integrating works on the library by two fundamental artists: Joseph Kosuth proposes a light box referencing his early work of Conceptual Art, The Information Room, while Martha Rosler’s Library is made accessible on-line by e-flux.

In the glass-walled corridor between the Bookshop and the Nave, the visitor navigates through ten brickbats – bricks wrapped in scans of book covers – by Claire Fontaine lying latent on the floor. This particular series of brickbats refers to the missed dialogue between Muslim culture and the Western system of values. Restore Now by Thomas Hirschhorn explodes the main space of the Nave and transforms it into the scene of a passionate battle to reestablish hope, faith, love and peace. A multitude of books on philosophy, both real and aggrandized, are tools for the artist’s (re)constructive interpretation of the world.

The Reading Room welcomes Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s Reading Rug (Dystopia), created specifically for The Artist’s Library. Many of the artist’s literary references are placed on a rug in small piles. The public is invited to sit, stand or lie comfortably on rug and consult these books – the artist’s raw materials – to penetrate the notion of dystopia. Carol Bove, in contrast, collects and assembles books concerned with utopian ideologies from the 1960s and 70s. Her signature bookshelf pieces allow her to compose using pages of text and images within volumes on sexuality, meditation, experimental architecture and other cult books of the period which she combines to form a vintage “paradise” of political, social and artistic movements. The Reading Room presents two of these sculptures, Tantra Yoga, and the emblematic Conversations with Jorge-Luis Borges, the author who figured paradise in the form of a library.

In antipode to the baroque, explosive and human esthetic of Hirschhorn’s Restore Now lies the serene classicism, the contemplative austerity of Joseph Kosuth’s installation On the Phenomenon of the Library. The spectator is invited to penetrate the darkness of the Petit Theatre, where Kosuth presents photographs on glass panels depicting libraries belonging to French writers and philosophers of the 20th century. Illuminated by warm white neon, these panels are inscribed with quotations from Gaston Bachelard, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir and Paul Ricœur that provide meanings reflecting Kosuth’s concerns as an artist. On the floor, an achromatic field of philosophy books contextualizes the wall installation.

In the Atelier, Maria Pask creates an environment where the public can consult and exchange views on her library of publications concerning religion, ethics and spirituality. A wide selection of beliefs and philosophies are presented side by side, without judgment of any sort – this demonstrates, in itself, a form of enlightenment. Within Beautiful City, speakers of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds consider the question of how to build a beautiful city, a city built not of walls and towers, but of visionary ideas, ethics and mutual trust. Peter Wüthrich’s books, like a flock of birds, inhabit the Tower. Between metaphor and metamorphosis, the artist uses the formal possibilities of books to create a poetic and dreamlike installation.

With her ongoing project Sorted Books, Nina Katchadourian insinuates herself into public or private libraries, regrouping their titles to form new and revealing phrases. In annex to the exhibition, in the Café de l’Ile, she presents photographs from two such groupings, one realized in the library of an art museum, the other taken in the personal library of a prominent collector of contemporary art.

We are what we read.

Press contact :
Frédéric Legros
t : +33 (0)5 55 69 27 27
f : +33 (0)5 55 69 29 31
e : (to view exhibition photographs, select French version of website)

Curator contact:

The Centre international d’art et du paysage is financed by the Ministère de la culture et de la communication/Drac Limousin and the Conseil régional du Limousin.

The exhibition The Artist’s Library was produced in partnership with Naturalia, Pro natura and the Syndicat mixte régional et interdépartemental de Vassivière en Limousin (SYMIVA).

Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island
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