press release

A series of marble busts of wounded soldiers from World War I and repaired North African wooden learning boards (ketab) observe a towering structure of bookshelves filled with centuries of accumulated human knowledge.

The process of repair is central to Kader Attia’s (b.1970) work, which he sees as an underlying principle of development in nature as in culture, and a motive to re-invigorate his extraordinary library.

Inside the structure of books lies a warmly-lit cabinet of curiosities above which a vast mirror reflects a horizontal beam of light, transforming it into rungs of a ladder to infinity. This commission is made specially for the Whitechapel Gallery and is inspired by the religious story of Jacob’s vision of angels ascending to heaven, as well as by the space itself which is steeped in history as a former library reading room.