'The Art of Reading: From William Kentridge to Wikipedia’


18 Nov 2017
4 Mar 2018

Under the name of ‘House of the Book’, Museum Meermanno and the KB, the National Library of the Netherlands, present the exhibition The Art of Reading: From William Kentridge to Wikipedia. Over twenty installations, arranged as experimental areas, give visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with numerous different aspects of reading. Examples include the printed version of the Dutch Wikipedia, produced by the American artist Michael Mandiberg, and the intriguing 2nd Hand Reading by the famous South African artist William Kentridge.

Most of the international artworks included are on show for the first time in the Netherlands: work by Juan Fontanive (US), Mirabelle Jones (US), Didier Mutel (France), Rick Myers (UK), Heidi Neilson (US), and Paul Emmanuel (South Africa).

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The Art of Reading

Reading is a truly remarkable activity. As babies we can’t do it; but we soon learn to do it at great speed. Reading is not just looking, it also involves turning pages, touching, seeing and remembering, concentrating and responding. How does reading work, actually? How unique an activity is leafing through a book? What different kinds of reading can be distinguished, now that we read more and more on screens? How do you cope, as a reader, with words, sounds and images coming at you at the same time? And how do art and industry respond to these developments? All this will be explored in a new kind of interactive exhibition with books.


Three examples: William Kentridge, Carina Hesper, and Michael Mandiberg

The book 2nd Hand Reading (2014) by William Kentridge has never before been on view in the Netherlands. Kentridge made hundreds of drawings in an English dictionary. These served as the basis for two manifestations of ‘turning pages’: an unmanageably large ‘flipbook’ and a compelling, fast-moving film. Concentration versus emotion.

In Like a pearl in my hand (2016) by Carina Hesper, her photographs of blind Chinese children are coated in a layer of black thermodynamic ink. The portraits of these children, who are often hidden away in orphanages, only become visible when you press your hand against the paper: making a sensory protest edition.

Michael Mandiberg wrote a computer script that enabled him to print out Wikipedia. The Dutch version of it is now on view in the Netherlands for the first time. What appears as light as a feather in the virtual world is actually immensely heavy. How do these ‘frozen’ entries relate to our compulsion to react online?

Collaboration with public libraries

A taste of what lies in store at this exhibition can be seen on the first floor of The Hague Central Library from 18 November. The House of Book is delighted that its first ‘mobile’ presentation has been given a place at this library.

House of the Book

‘The Art of Reading’ is an exhibition mounted by the House of the Book, a joint initiative of Museum Meermanno and the KB, the National Library of the Netherlands. The House of the Book seeks to connect people through books. It explores the significance of books, different forms of books, and experiments with books, as well as looking at makers and readers – past, present, and future. It is not confined to Museum Meermanno and the KB, but emphatically seeks to involve other places around the country: public libraries, schools, and other places of inspiration.



Participating artists: 

Scott Blake, Hole Punch Flipbook #2 (US, 2014); Amaranth Borsuk & Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (US, 2012); Jan Dirk van der Burg, Tweetbundel (NL, 2015); Marinus van Dijke, Eye (NL, 2013); Paul Emmanuel, The Lost Men Project (ZA, 2006); Eyejack, Prosthetic Reality (AU, 2016); Juan Fontanive, Ornithology I (US, 2015); Carina Hesper, Like a Pearl in my Hand (NL, 2016); Mirabelle Jones, Asystole (US, 2017); William Kentridge, 2nd Hand Reading (ZA, 2014); Kraak & Smaak, Squeeze me (NL, 2004); Michael Mandiberg, Print Wikipedia (US, 2015); Didier Mutel, My way II (FR, 2014); Rick Myers, An Excavation, A Reading (GB, 2013); Heidi Neilson, Cloud Book Study (US, 2011); Orcam bril O.L.V.S. ; Joyce Overheul, De Drie Maanden uit het Leven van Rogier (NL, 2013); Sebastian Schmieg & Silvio Lorusso, 56 Broken Kindle Screens (DE, IT, 2012); Rebecca Sutherland, Hide & Eek (GB, 2013); Elisabeth Tonnard, A Dialogue in Useful Phrases (NL, 2010) and Simon Morris, The Royal Road to the Unconscious (GB, 2003)