In this project space Karin de Jong, artist and curator of the Rotterdam Print Room, zooms in on the vital role of books as sources of knowledge and on translation as a source of confusion. On show are works by four artists who live and work all over the world, and there will be a varied programme of lectures and activities in Babel Bookspace during the exhibition.
When the story of the Tower of Babel rears its head, something is brewing in the world. Pieter Bruegel painted his tower at a moment when the church’s position was being undermined by Humanism, modern science and flourishing international trade. Instead of one clear (imposed) vision, chaos reigned: what next? Is the huge virtual structure that our advanced technological society has created on the point of collapse, or can we add a couple more storeys to it? What happens to individual expression now that all information is encoded?
Babel Bookspace – PrintRoom
PrintRoom is a project space and shop in Rotterdam and entirely devoted to artists’ books, small press publications and unusual printed matters by artists and designers from all over the world. The displays in the exhibition contain inspiring examples that treat the phenomenon of the library and archives. They examine the changed role of books in our digital society. The concept of ‘translation’ is also explored from different angles. The selection comes from the PrintRoom’s collection and from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s library.
Zoe Beloff explores the history of specific pictorial idioms and the graphic representation of emotion. These three watercolours are part of a spatial installation titled ‘Emotions Go to Work’ that investigates how technology is used to turn our feelings into valuable assets. One might call it the transformation of emotion into capital.
Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva grew up surrounded by chemical plants, in an environment that evoked post-apocalyptic visions and where her imagination was able to flourish as rampantly as the weeds on the pavement. Her childhood in Russia is still the source of complex and moving narrative images in diverse media. These are not stories in the normal sense of the word, but surprising situations where everything is out of proportion and human figures seem to have been cloned or taken on hybrid forms.
Sara Sejin Chang
From 2004 to 2009, Pyongyang, the capital of the secluded communist North Korea, hosted the Office for German Academic and Technical Publishing at the Goethe-Institut’s Information Centre. The Goethe-Institut believed that Germany could be an example for Korea in the unification process, but also that Germany could contribute to an eventual uniting of the two Koreas with the German library in Pyongyang. From December 11, 2015–April 10, 2016 the German Library in Guangzhou, China became The German Library Pyongyang because of an intervention by Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide). Her project offered a space for critical questions, but was as well a space for transcending thinking along the lines of the nation-state, language, and geography. The exhibition shows is the database of the media—5,000 books, DVDs, and CDs—that were shipped to Pyongyang in 2004. The selection of the books illustrates the different interests of Germany and North Korea.
In the German library there are books present on German culture, history, philosophy, science, German foreign relations policy, the Cold War and WWII, as well as literature and music scores. A random selection of pages from different books was sent to Sora Kim, who is based in Seoul. From these pages she re-creates a new text: text beyond meaning and the different languages. Her abstract writing gives voice to a language far from the conventional notion of communication and logical thinking. Her work gives new meaning to the usage of the library and its books and offers an analogy for the current transformation of the library.