Library of Exile: Edmund de Waal at the British Museum

Library of Exile: Edmund de Waal at the British Museum
#Exhibitions

After its debut at the Venice Biennial 2019 and its move to the Japanisches Palais in Dresden, the installation Library of Exile by Edmund de Waal has arrived at the British Museum. Here, the British artist offers a pavilion completely encased in porcelain that invites visitors to reflect and discuss. Within are more than 2000 volumes written in exile by authors across the ages. From Ovid to Dante, then all the way up to Albert Camus, Marina Cvetaeva, Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce. Leaving one’s own home to move to a foreign land also means learning how to express one’s own thoughts in a new language - the translations of masterpieces of literature compels us to comprehend how language itself can become a subject of migration. On the walls of this library, fragments of fragile porcelain, marble and metal are inspired by a precious edition of the Talmud from the 1500s printed in Venice, paying homage to the wandering culture of the Jewish diaspora. However, the work of de Waal is also open to the participation of spectators - everyone can leave their name on their favorite books, thanks to the ex libris tag that accompanies each volume. On the external walls, written in liquid porcelain, an ode to the lost libraries - the ancient libraries of Nineveh and Alexandria, as well as those of Tripoli and Mosul, lost to the recent events that overturned the Arab world. Not all is lost however - after the exhibition at the British Museum, the volumes of Library of Exile will be donated to the Library of the University of Mosul, currently being rebuilt.
Francesca Grego - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London