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“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges
Surely, Book Paradise will look something like this . . .
. . . the stunning National Library of Latvia in Riga designed by Gunnar Birkerts, current home of BiblioMosaico, a collection of mosaics devoted to The Book created by some of the medium’s modern masters.
Bibliomosaico is the brainchild of Rosetta Berardi, editor at Edizioni del Girasole, a specialty publisher of art books based in Ravenna, Italy. Berardi conceived the exhibit in 2009 in conjunction with the first RavennaMosaico, the International Festival of Contemporary Mosaics. That year, Berardi invited nine artists to “reflect on the form of books, on the representation of a book as an object that wants to be looked at but not read, a book that is ‘not a book’, a book which may have lots its words but gained a specific conceptional meaning as an open work of art.”
Since then, over 50 artists have participated in Bibliomosaico and now 34 of their works are scattered throughout the Riga Library where visitors will discover them hidden in the stacks, reclining on book trolleys and displayed on shelves.
Some of the mosaics are quite literal, like Verdiano Marzi’s Pinocchi or Sophie Drouin’s Censure. Others, like Gerard Brand’s Six Pages in Lace and Samantha Holmes’ Absence pay homage to Ravenna’s Byzantine mosaic heritage in new and intriguing ways.
This current showing of Bibliomosaico is part of a larger mosaic-centered exchange between Riga, the current Cultural Capital for the European Union and Ravenna, which is vying for the title in 2019. Also on display in the Library are large-scale reproductions of some of Ravenna’s most iconic Byzantine treasures.
We were first charmed and delighted by Bibliomosaico during RavennaMosaico in 2011 and found it to be one of our top three favorite exhibitions for RavennaMosaico 2013.
One of our favorites from 2011 was Raniero Bittante’s Bubble Gum Italia. Three copies of the Italian constitution encrusted with red, white and green smalti adhered with used wads of bubblegum were accompanied by a video of Italians blowing bubbles. This work turned out to be far more literal than we thought at first glance. Bittante is reflecting on the 150 years of Italy’s political unity in a classical mosaic sense – each individual, regardless of race or ethnicity, is part of the whole – like the tesserae of a mosaic. Bubble gum as the “mortar” or glue that holds it together? Of course. Just think of the DNA contained in a wad of used bubble gum. Brilliant.
We think BiblioMosaico is an absolutely splendid representation of how the medium can be used to convey powerful themes and individual expression. We are going to leave you here with images from all three editions of BiblioMosaico and commentary by curator Berardi. The exhibit runs through August 30th. All photos unless noted were taken by Berardi who is also a professional photographer. Enjoy – Nancie (And don’t forget to click to enlarge)
The artist’s book denies itself nothing, it can even dare to be unreadable. Every artist gives a personal interpretation of the book using the force of substance, the plasticity of structure, the diversity of materials and bringing into play his or her own sensitivity. The results are poetical objects that challenge the writing and concentrate on technique, form and harmony.
Viewers are encouraged to watch the artwork and read it on the basis of a visual grammar. The meaning of the book is expressed without words. The book, depository of the written word, changes its function: it is no longer meant to be read, but rather looked at to.
A creative exercise that involves both young and experienced artists, who engage in the production of artworks conceived for being displayed among paper books, like jewels set in a ring.
The exhibition was originally designed to give a look of precious elegance to a space that communicates and interacts with the works in an exemplary way.
Mosaics fascinate us, and the subject of the book makes them even more enchanting. – Rosetta Berardi