Library is a space charged with strong literature symbolisms. Apart from temple of wisdom, it can be The Universe (which others call the Library) as the Borgesian Library of Babel, a labyrinth of dark mysteries as the aedificium in Eco’s The name of the rose, a peaceful hideaway, as the one Julius Verne describes in his 20 thousand miles under the sea’s Nautilus or a sanatorium for the survival of mind health as described in Varlam Salamov’s My libraries. According to Cicero, after all, if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
In multicultural communities, as the city of London, though, a local library means something even more. It becomes a crossroad of different languages and cultures.
A little Babel, a diversity hub. In Brent, in particular, there are 130 different languages spoken. As local library books are mostly written or translated in English, the reading process seems to reverse the Babel myth, converting all this vast variety of languages to a common reading one.
worldblend project urges, playfully, library visitors to “recreate” a small Babel inside the gallery space, in a kind of diversity celebration. As we consider library as a place where all those different civilizations, nations, genders, ages, people backgrounds and preferences meet, we intend through our project to investigate and promote this fact. We invite thus visitors to share publicly their favourite excerpt of a library book by writing it, in their own native language, on paper that will cover the available gallery walls. The written papers will then be collected and be used for the making of handbound artist books “returning” this way in the library context.
Three are the basic aims of the project:
Firstly, a remark on the multiple functions of a local library. Being a space of communication, study and research, a meeting place, a culture centre.
Secondly, a statement about the cultural diversity of the specific borough through the actual written presence of the visitors’ languages. Walls will be filled with different languages’ writings. Within this variety what is outlined is a unique identity, not only for the London borough of Brent, but for London as well in its whole, as one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
And last, but not least, to identify the artistic qualities of a group participatory creative process like this. Finding thus the art of sharing through the act of sharing. Sharing of tastes, languages, phrases, words - thus in fact cultures – in a unique and unexpected blend – a blend of words plus worlds- reminding vaguely the surrealistic Exquisite Corpse* made here by several book passages in many different languages.
And as the great poet Maya Angelou observes in a reverse approach:
The library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you're not really any different from everyone else.
*Exquisite Corpse was originally a parlor game based on words. To play, each participant wrote a word or phrase on a piece of paper then folded it so that the next player could not see the previous contributions. This resulted in nonsensical phrases like “The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine” one enigmatic phrase after which the game was named.
Gelly Grindaki (http://www.art-cat.gr/ ) is a curator and Maria Nymfiadi (http://www.marianymfiadi.com/ )a visual artist. They share common experiences and interests as they both come from Greece, relocated recently to London and raising bilingual children. During a conversation about language, translation, reading and participatory projects for the area they live in Brent, worλdblend was born.