There are no days of our childhood which we lived so fully perhaps as those we thought we had left behind without living them, those we spent with a favorite book. Everything which, it seemed, filled others’ days but which we pushed aside as a vulgar obstacle to a heavenly pleasure: the game for which a friend came to fetch us at the most interesting passage, the bee or shaft of sunlight which forced us to look up from the page and to change our position, the provisions of food which we had prepared and which we left beside us on the seat, untouched, while, above our head, the sun was declining in strength in the blue sky, the dinner for which we had had to return home and during which our one only thought was to go straight away afterwards and finish the rest of the chapter: Reading should have prevented us from seeing all this as anything except importunity, but, on the contrary, so sweet is the memory engraved in us (and so much precious in our present estimation than what we then read so lovingly) that if still, today, we chance to leaf through these books from the past, it is simply as the only calendars we have preserved of those bygone days, and in the hope of finding reflected in their pages the houses and the ponds which no longer exist. Marcel Proust, On Reading (Sur la lecture)
The act of reading, the memory of reading, the vivid colors following us through the black ink on white paper. Marcel Proust remembering himself as this child discovering the joy of reading during summer, all these hours of reading visiting new worlds. The book as a possibility for escape, the book as a performative experience, the book as a secret desire to connect and find, to discover and feel, to understand how culture is an inner part of every reading, every reader, every encounter.
Mette Edvardsen takes the idea of reading (and the memory of reading) from the dystopian situation presented by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451: the system has decided that books go against happiness and must be burned. In Bradbury’s society, happiness is the main goal and nothing can disturb it. Literature, philosophy, ideas or doubts written on paper must be incinerated to avoid a critical approach. However, as always happens, some people decide to keep the books the only way that they think is safe: by memorizing them, one by one, becoming living books to be kept and read. Mette Edvardsen has made this conceptual proposition real by creating a collection of human books. This library of emotions offers possibilities for escape, a temporality on reading; living books waiting to be read.
The exhibition at Index Foundation Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine presents this project by Mette Edvardsen and its process. The exhibitions shares a selection of books to be memorized, the process of memorizing and the temporary presence of the living books themselves to be read by the visitors/readers. The project has over time also developed along parallel tracks. In addition to the ongoing process of learning by heart and reciting from memory, some of the books have been written down from memory, back to paper. These printed books include now the details of the subjectivity coming from reading and memory with all the mistakes that make the books alive.
Mette Edvardsen is a Norwegian artist based in Brussels, who balances between choreography and performance. Her work has been presented in contexts such as Sydney Biennial, La Biennale de Lyon, Tramway (Glasgow), Fondation Cartier (Paris), Espacios Ibsen (La Habana), Nationaltheatret (Oslo), Dansehallerne (Copenhagen) and Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels). A retrospective of her work was presented at Black Box theatre in Oslo in 2015, and a focus program, Idiorhytmias, was dedicated to her work at MACBA in Barcelona in 2018.
The exhibition Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine is made in collaboration and in parallel to the performances that Mette Edvardsen presents at MDT in Stockholm during the time the exhibition is opened to the public at Index. Mette Edvardsen’s exhibition is produced with the support of Petra och Karl Erik Hedborgs Stiftelse.