Proposal for international project, Nona Orbach, 2012

Alexandria Library in Egypt contained most knowledge of the ancient world. It burned down totally in 47 BC. This severe historical event left us with a huge void and questions of what knowledge was or could have been there.

Queries and feelings of loss filled my imagination since I was a child. What was lost forever? What did Aristotle second book contained? On the other hand, with the notion that human kind re-invents ideas, and the thought that knowledge does not really die- I propose a worldwide on-going artist-book project aiming to revive the Ancient Library of Alexandria metaphorically.

Curating as art:
A group of “librarians” [Curators, media master, producer, etc.] will approach established artists, such as: Bill Viola, William Kentridge. They will be invited to create an artist’s book relating to a great master of the past; a master whose knowledge was in that library, or might have been. The artwork will be scanned, and display on a web-site called: Reviving Ancient Alexandria Library.
The exhibition- perhaps even a Biennale – will offer large touch-screens for the audience to search the web-site already on line. The physical artworks will be displayed as well, at the same space.
The event can take place in Istanbul, Rome, Jerusalem and Athens – or anywhere that has a history concerning Alexandria, perhaps even in a few places at the same time! It can also be a traveling exhibition.

This ongoing international humanistic project conveys the idea that knowledge will not burn down again, and that it is for everyone to enjoy.
Thus, eventually, the creations will be donated and exhibited at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new library that opened in 2002 as a tribute to the ancient one. A poetical justice will be made.

The metaphorical role of the internet for this project:

Nowadays, the Internet is a main arcade of knowledge; I wish to be part of the process as one of the librarians, and follow the path and passion of scribes of the ancient library – to collect, resonate, copy, create and learn. They would have been thrilled to use such a tool!
Additionally, the internet is a conjunction where individual archetypes resonate jointly with the collective ones. Accordingly, I created a personal blog “feeding” it with archetypes regarding the library and resonance it has in my world and cultures I relate to.

On my tiny scaled personal journey, I started “reviving the library”: I map myself within the huge “internet-brain” as connected to this theme; I wrote the story of this powerful metaphor, how I met the library’s fragments in Kyoto, and how I connect my Mediterranean world with cultures of the Far East.


This vast ongoing project is meant to be a humble gesture of acknowledgement to our cultural roots. It is an act of gratitude to many known and unknown creators of ancient times.
Hopefully, we can work together with the greatest artists living today to create an optimistic, good faith internet arcade of knowledge, beauty and spirituality.


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