press release

Bibliologia: The Book as Body, on view at Petach Tikva Museum of Art from November 26, 2015 to March 19, 2016, explores the connections, associations and interactions between the book and the human body. The exhibition brings together the methodologies of art, ethnography, art history and material culture in order to stress the corporeal nature of the book. It explores the ways in which we relate to books not as objects, but rather as subjects. Indeed, books produce effects on us: they enrich our world, affect our perceptions, stimulate our sensations, and trigger our emotions. Unlike other objects that are purely functional, engaging with a book initiates an active and complex relation.

Bibliologia: The Book as Body features books borrowed from the Israel National Library once owned by Walter Benjamin, one-of-a-kind Jewish cultic objects from a private collection, photographs from Yad Vashem’s archive, hi-tech digital reproductions of Cairo’s genizah fragments, an index from Petach Tikva’s archive, and modern artworks from the Israel Museum collection shown side-by-side with sculptures, photographs, films, and works by contemporary artists, some of which were specifically commissioned for the exhibition.

Books, Deep River, God (2015) by Israeli artist Avital Geva is an outdoor installation comprising a temporary library that covers the museum walls like a parasite, as well as heaps of books scattered both around the entrance square and behind it. It extends into the public park adjacent to it. The issues with which Avital Geva engages have always exceeded the relatively narrow bounds of art. Once again, Geva engages with books as raw material, one whose role is to ferment and propel local social processes.

Broken Horizons—shtiebelekh (2015) is an installation by Israeli artist Maya Zack in collaboration with Vienna-based studio Stuben21 (Nicole Horn & Peter Daniel). Broken Horizons constitutes a version of a shtiebelekh—a place used for communal Jewish prayer and for community gathering—and an extensive library of a Beit Midrash (“House of Learning”) that will be available to the public. The project strives to create a Noah’s Ark of sorts, like a capsule in which the most significant knowledge of the past will be entrusted and preserved for future generations.

Despite their difference of status on the dialectic scale that extends from use value to exhibition value, the works presented are placed on equal footing. By detracting from any form of hierarchy, Bibliologia: The Book as Body questions the boundaries that separate a book from a work of art, a library from a museum, a site of exhibition from a site of remembrance. It challenges the position of the reader, the artist, the archivist, the thinker, the writer, the designer, and the curator alike. The exhibition is conceived as a variegated multimedia experience and fosters a dynamic encounter between the spectator and the pieces presented.

Participating artists:    Avital Geva, Eve K. Tremblay, Wanja-Jonathan Schaub, Jean-Baptiste Warluzel, Yosef-Joseph Dadoune, Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javachef), Maya Zack and Stuben21 (Peter Daniel and Nicole Horn), Micha Ullman, Noga Inbar, Raphael Sigal

Alongside:   Documentation of a performance by the Marie Chouinard Dance Company, Judaica items, and treasures from the National Library of Israel and other archives