On the occasion of ‘BABEL – Old Masters Back from Japan’, on view from 3 February until 21 May 2018, PrintRoom takes up space at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Tower of Babel (c. 1568) imagines an actual architectural construction in its rise and fall. In the Babel Bookspace, occupied by PrintRoom, we imagine what lies in its long-cast shadow: lost, living, and imaginary libraries, books in and about translation, the confusion and commingling of tongues.
On view at the Babel Bookspace are works by Zoe Beloff, Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva, Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Sora Kim, and a selection of artists’ books from the PrintRoom collection.
Further contributions and events by: Niels Bekkema & friends, Kate Briggs, Daniela Cascella, Moosje M. Goosen, Dongyoung Lee, Nick Thurston.
* To be announced: Supposing You Do Not Like to Change: Studies in description translation, a live translation of Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, a project initiated by Kate Briggs and Moosje M. Goosen, in collaboration with Niels Bekkema, Katarina Jazbec, Ash Kilmartin, Sarah Posman, Riet Wijnen, Mia You, et al.
Zoe Beloff explores the role of the historical context in the development of a specific pictorial idiom. These three watercolours are part of a spatial installation titled ‘Emotions Go to Work’. They investigate the way technology translates human emotions into statistical information and how this data is used to shape society – in the past, the present and the future.
In the mid-nineteenth century the scientist Duchenne de Boulogne used electrodes to produce emotions on the human face. He did this to study and categorize them. Now Duchenne’s facial expressions have been translated into emojis and no one needs to move a muscle to show that they are angry, surprised or happy. In the future Beloff foresees enormous data clouds in the sky, constructed from the emotions of millions of people, which have gobbled up each individual emotion.
Masha Krasnova Shabaeva
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 (Sara van der Heide)
THE GERMAN LIBRARY PYONGYANG (2015) by artist Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide) was a fictional recreation of the German library of the Goethe-Institut in Pyongyang, North Korea, operative from 2004-2009. Chang’s library, revived for the 1st Asia Biennal in Guangzhou, became a space for critical questions regarding imperialism, the parallel histories of Korea and Germany, and issues of censorship.
Sora Kim, who’s work is present here as well, was one of the participants.
On the occasion of her presentation of The German Library Pyongyang (Sternberg Press, 2017), a publication that brings together the four original exhibition booklets in German, Korean, English, and Chinese, Chang has re-installed elements of the library in the Babel Bookspace.