One summer night at 2009, I woke up and sat straight up in bed as if I was struck by lightning. I had an idea that filled me with excitement and wonder.
I took some papers and started scribbling: What if the Ancient Library of Alexandria did not burn down? Where would we be today? How much was lost that we do not even imagine? Where there great scholars whom we do not even know about?
It was not the first time I contemplated about the burned scrolls- but that night, I felt the loss.
I made some tea.
I recalled the phenomena that an invention can be rediscovered in different places, time and cultures. Pyramids were built in Egypt and South America as well. Maybe the human knowledge has roots and rivers that flow to the same solutions? Perhaps knowledge does not die? Can it be born time after time? In my mind’s eye, I saw scrolls on shelves. I saw scribes wearing togas diligently copying Archimedes on long wooden tables.
I missed something I have never seen.
Then I recalled my physicist uncle explaining that matter in the world is constant. I held this thought forcefully; I deeply believed in it; when I was ten, he took me to a large hall in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was filled with noisy strange machines and with punched cards. He told me that this machine is a kind of a brain. “It can answer questions with numbers. One day it will be much smaller, perhaps even as small as your room.”
It was dawn when I realized that my deep identification with cultures far away from me must be related to this physical phenomenon! I must be having a tiny particle within me that is Dogon, Japanese or Euclid- otherwise – what are they doing so intimately within me?!
Feather cloud thoughts came gently: Perhaps the knowledge of Alexandria is not doomed after all? Will I be able to revive Mediterranean knowledge by activating my collective archetypes? Can I fill a bucket from the well of wisdom and revive ancient knowledge and metaphorically restore the knowledge of Alexandria’s Library?
I fell asleep on the sofa.
The next days, in the studio I picked up Sappho few remains of poetry lines translated to Hebrew, and drew a golden turquoise Alter next to them. I started to create a collection of altered books. I needed help. I cannot do it on my own; I need more artists generously activating their archetypes and relating to masters of the past. Each one will create an artist book, together we will contribute to an international on-going project, perhaps a biennale, under the title:
Reviving ancient Alexandria Library.
I wished artists to relate to a great a master from the past that was there or might have been in the library. Artist books will be scanned and digitalized. Knowledge will not burn down again. I also wished the physical art work to be exhibited at Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
I understood it is a gigantic idea, beyond my ability to accomplish as I see it in my mind’s eye; William Kentridge and Bill Viola will not reply to my e-mail. But, if they do?…
Am I capable of organizing a professional web-stage for their artist books? I need a librarian! I need a web master who understands in art and communities. I need money. I needed an establishment behind me, so I started to share this idea with curators. I met the curator Suzanne Landau at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. As she plans a large exhibition concerning libraries in artist work- I thought she might be interested.
With these thought of Alexandria on my mind, I went to Kyoto for five weeks at the end of July 2011.
More about reviving Alexandria Library :