Friday, November 20, 2009

'We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die,' Umberto Eco Guest Curator at the Louvre!

The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order... And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries...We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die. --Umberto Eco, on his current guest-curated Louvre exhibition “Mille e tre," Spiegel, 2009
It has just come to my attention that Umberto Eco has guest curated an exhibition at The Louvre in Paris. Entitled “Mille e tre" or "The Infinity of Lists," the exhibition is on view in the prints and drawings section of the Louvre from November 7th 2009 until February 8, 2010 and will includes poetry, text, multi-media projects, and artworks selected by Eco to illustrate his chosen theme.

To my knowledge, this is Eco's first officially curated exhibition, though fans of his books On Beauty and On Ugliness already know him to possess an idiosyncratic and sensitive curatational mind. For those of us unable to make it out to view the exhibition in person, Rizzoli has kindly produced a lavish exhibition catalog to add to the already rich oeuvre of Eco's multi-disciplinary, highly-illustrated forays into philosophy and theory.

More on the exhibition, from the Louvre's website:
Having extended an invitation to Umberto Eco, who chose to work on a theme described as “The Infinity of Lists”, the Louvre presents an exhibition of ancient and contemporary graphic works, as well as around 20 multidisciplinary events in the auditorium and the rooms of the museum.

The exhibition “Mille e tre” traces the evolution of the concept of a list through history and examines how its meaning changes with the passage of time: from its ancient use in funerary traditions to its present-day use in everyday life, via the creative processes of contemporary artists, the list is a vehicle for cultural codes and the bearer of different messages.
Read the entire Spiegel interview with Eco--which contains many more pithy and insightful comments than the one I included above--by clicking here. More about the exhibition can be found on the Louvre exhibitions webpage by clicking here. Purchase the exhibition catalog, published by Rizzoli, here. You can see more about his other illustrated volumes by clicking here. Via Metafilter.

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