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(Kirk Kerkorian Exhibition Hall, 1 March – 22 June 2024)


Today the Kirk Kerkorian Exhibition Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Library will host the inauguration of the fifth exhibition dedicated to the dialogue between its heritage and contemporary art, represented this time by the work of the French artist Alain Fleischer. Visitors will be greeted by the blow-up of the exhibition's symbolic image: the “Tower of Babel” published by Athanasius Kircher in 1679, placed above the entrance arch. “It is in the light of this vivid biblical image (Gn 11:1-9)”, says the Librarian Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, “that Alain Fleischer, photographer, director and writer, invites visitors to enter the halls of our Vatican Library. As in a new Babel, in which all traces, down to the most distant and miniscule, of that ‘dispersion’ decreed by God to men, who tried to ‘make a name’ for themselves on their own, are brought together”.

The exhibition route continues up the grand staircase, where the public will be able to immerse themselves in the history of the Library thanks to a photographic mosaic full of shots from the Photographic Archive, the Library Archive and the General Photographic Collection fund, to which are also added shots from other ‘minor’ collections, alternating with other unpublished works by the artist. At the top of the staircase it will be possible to enter Fleischer's poetic universe through a selection of the most emblematic works of his career, while others, specially created for this occasion, are exhibited in the subsequent rooms, where they are accompanied by a wide selection of the Library's historical photographs and casts of ancient Arab and Chinese steles.

Finally, a true immersive experience has been devised by Fleischer for the famous Sala Barberini, in which, even in the absence of the physical volumes, the voices of the books preserved there for centuries will once again be seen and heard. This is a site-specific installation of great emotional impact that for the first time gives account of the dual library-theatre nature of the “Barberini”.

The artist’s offering is accompanied by the historiographic work carried out by the curators with the invaluable help of colleagues from the Library's Photographic Archive, who emphasize the importance of photographic documentation in this exhibition: “Whether we want to consider the photographic record the visual expression of the historical stratification of an architecture, or whether we want to consider it a tool for reflecting on spaces or even a site of crystallization of memory, it is a precious asset that must be preserved in order to hand down to future generations not only the memory of places, but also of the people who designed and inhabited them”.

A path that in its specificity nevertheless remains faithful to the initial intuition, summarized as follows by the librarian Msgr. Zani: “If there is, in fact, one aspect that our exhibitions in dialogue with contemporary art have - and I strongly believe that they have - it is that of giving rise to intuition, making connections, pointing out paths. They are true scientific research and, at the same time, promote other, much more structured and complete research, contributing like few other initiatives to the self-awareness of the Institution”.

The exhibition may be visited until 22 June 2024, upon booking on the Library website (https://www.vaticanlibrary.va).


Press Kit
For information and photographic material for journalists, please refer to the exhibition press kit, available at: https://cloud.vatlib.it/index.php/s/9YGF9SEaZWk3GW2


Further information on the Vatican Apostolic Library
La Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana è un’istituzione antica, luogo di conservazione e di ricerca appartenente al Papa e in stretto rapporto con il governo e il ministero della Sede Apostolica.

The Vatican Apostolic Library is an ancient institution, a place of conservation and research belonging to the Pope and maintaining close relations with the governance and ministry of the Apostolic See.

As attested to by the Scrinium as early as the fourth century, the Vatican Library began its modern history with Nicholas V, who around the middle of the fifteenth century decided to open the papal library collections to learned men (pro communi doctorum virorum commodo, Brief of 30 April 1451), and with Sixtus IV, who gave a more stable organization to the Library with the Bull Ad decorem militantis ecclesiae of 15 June 1475.

Its extensive collections of manuscripts, archival material, ancient and modern printed volumes, coins and medals, prints and drawings, cartographic and photographic material have always been open to qualified scholars from all over the world without distinction of race, religion, origin or culture. The Library specializes in philological and historical disciplines and, retrospectively, also in theological, legal and scientific disciplines.


Some information about the artist Alain Fleischer
Writer, filmmaker, artist and photographer, he lives between France (Paris and Tourcoing) and Italy (Rome and Trevignano Romano). He is the author of more than 60 books - including novels, short stories and theoretical writings - and 350 films - including medium and feature-length films, experimental films and art documentaries - and has taken part in numerous exhibitions of plastic art and photography, both in France and abroad. He has represented France in the biennials of Quang-Jiu, Sydney, Busan, Havana and Moscow. He has taught at the University Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle and the University of Quebec in Montréal. A fellow at the Academy of France in Rome, he is the founder and director of the Studio national des arts contemporaines “le Fresnoy'” on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture.