To say there are any other happenings in London this summer, more gripping than the Olympics, would be the understatement of the decade. Surprising as it may seem however, we managed to tear ourselves away from the sporting festivities to check out the new installation – aMAZEme – as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World.
Combining literature; art; design; and performance, the installation, created by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gaulter Pupo, invites the audience to experience literary works in an innovative way. The concept is said to have been inspired by the shape of the late Jorgi Luis Borges’ fingerprints and seems like a fitting way to pay homage to the common themes of labyrinths, libraries and mirrors – which ran through Borges collection of short stories in The Aleph, one of the writer’s most famous works.
Fashioned from 250,000 used and new books – 150,000 of which are courtesy of Oxfam with the remaining books having been donated by publishing houses around the UK – the installation stands at 2.5m high over a 500 square meter space. After we got over our initial awe and excitement, an impromptu game of hide and seek ensued, before we all broke off to continue exploring the vast array of titles and textures that made up the maze. Saboya offers a thought-provoking and cryptic interpretation of the concept as; “A Labyrinth of fake entrances, exits that exit, straight curves, straight lines, overturned abysses, brittle stand stones, blunt edges, filled holes, evident secret pathways, compressed stars, wide valleys, unbridgeable straits, blinding thick rain, longitudinal sea currents, invisible avalanches, still winds, inaudible requests, mislaid sentences, in a dark pyramid, as tall as a chasm, as deep as the sky, without echoes, smooth at touch, worn out by weary fingers, which point to the nothing, which is near, and has always been.”
If the opportunity to explore this make-shift library isn’t enticing enough, the provision of touch screens to help guests navigate through the entire collection of books; the revolving series of installations projected onto monitors throughout the space; and the additional daily performances from known and unknown literary glitterati, should serve as an incentive to get you down to the Clore Ballroom between now and the 25th August, and satisfy your curiosity whilst simultaneously stimulating your creativity.
WORDS: KEJI MUSTAPHA