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mai 25, 2017


May 25-26

Hotel Catalonia Ramblas, Carrer de Pelai 28, Barcelona

« For me, books are essential to human life. The eclectic nature of books, their diversity, and the fact that they convey so many contradictory worlds of thoughts and perspectives makes them a bulwark against totalitarianism. … Books encourage you to create a meditative space in your home. Books summon up reading lamps, comfortable chairs, hot tea and silence. Books resist and channel out the noise of the world. When I read, that constant, oppressive murmur is replaced by a clear voice coming from a source that has substance.” (AK)

Ali Kazma loves books. In homage to this affection, he conducted for three years an intensive photographic investigation of the universes of the books that resulted in the publication of RECTO-VERSO. This artist book included a text by Alberto Manguel, one of the greatest book historians of our times. Ali Kazma now also devoted a video to books, thorough Alberto Manguel’s fantastic library – more than 40.000 books that was, until 2015, treasured in a house in the South of France.

House of Letters is a vibrant reflection on literature and culture, books and writers, photography and time, loss and refuge, twilight and daylight… One of its first sentences says: « I, who had always thought of Paradise in form and image as a library ». It brings immediately the viewer in the realm of lost paradise. And the loss is indeed a major feeling that immerses us. Even without knowing the details of Manguel’s move out of France, we get an extremely strong feeling of fragility and threat. We get locked up in a poignant oxymoron between the power of the words and their elusiveness.

House of Letters is the first synchronized diptych video by Ali Kazma. It is not by chance. The artist requires at least two images for his message: the phallus (the pistil) of a flower and the legs of a girl, next to a Vanity: Eros and Thanatos. And then, books… Alice in Wonderland and Moby Dick; Doris Lessing and Through the Looking Glass, Yung and Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens and Kipling, Victor Hugo and Borges, Don Juan and Don Quixote. Alternately, images of the house and of these indispensable companions of books: the lamp that remains on all night, the songs of the birds, the idyllic garden, ancient manuscripts and photographs. The night falls and the crickets start to sing. Whether bewildered or staggered, we have only one wish: look again, while this sentence by Manguel seems to be floating in the air: « There is a line of poetry, a sentence in a fable, a word in an essay, by which my existence is justified ».

This video work is a treasure, but an endangered one and thus an unsettling one, because as stated by William Marx, the discourse of literature about the world, human beings, gods… is a power, undeniably, but a fragile one, the most fragile to deny. House of Letters is not a “safe home” (title of one of Kazma’s latest solo exhibition) because there is actually no such thing as a safe home. Rather, it is a home of desire.

“Books are inexhaustible, and reading never ends.
They may be very fragile… but I cannot imagine living without them.” (AK)

For more information or to get an invitation, please contact barbara.s.polla(at) or call +41 79 200 90 36.


SAVE THE DATE : Ali Kazma @ Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
October 17, 2017 — January 21, 2018.


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