Art Book, reading room and the art of creating fictional files
by Priscila Arantes. (*)
Text for the solo exhibition Reading Room, Paço das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014.

The Art Book publisher could not be other: Menard Editions, direct allusion to Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer, and to the short story Pierre Menard, author of Quijote. According to Borges, Menard intended to write a Quijote verbally identical to Cervantes’ Quijote and say that it is not a copy.

In fact, Bruno Moreschi develops an encyclopedia, word for word, and in this case, we must admit, nothing fictional: as good or better as any encyclopedia of art we could find on the shelves of the best museums and cultural institutions in the country. The extremely meticulous and creative process in the choice of names, commented entries, as well as the biographies of each of the 50 artists presented; the images of the works, as well as the palette of colors and the configurations of graphic design that accompany the edition, leave nothing for any book of art that is called encyclopedic.

The challenge of presenting Art Book at Paço das Artes was based on a question I asked to the artist: how was the process of creating this book / work? This is how Art Book is presented in this Reading Room: as a kind of cartographic diagram of the mental maps, visual and iconographic, that accompanied the creation of the fictional encyclopedia.

From visual approximations it is possible to detect cartography that articulates iconographically, similar to Atlas Mnemosyne developed by Aby Warburg. As we know the German historian puts into debate the traditional narrative processes of art history by proposing a new historiographical methodology based less on temporal and chronological articulations and more on visual approaches.

Like the Atlas studies of Warburg, Reading Room presents itself as an attempt to construct a history of art not from authors, historical contexts permeated by chronological and linear orders, but from visual and iconographic approximations. Consisting of 700 images, Moreschi’s ‘atlas’, however, is not only a classic image of art history, but articulates with images from the media, newspapers and the internet (the memes).

For Paço das Artes, an institution dedicated to the promotion, diffusion and memory of young Brazilian art, presenting Art Book and its reading room is not only an opportunity to bring to the public this singular work, but especially to show a project that is articulated with the concerns about the archive and the memory of the young Brazilian art that has been part of our work in recent years.

* Priscila Arantes is director and curator of the Paço das Artes, São Paulo.