Vanishing 2002

I M A G I N I N G   T H E   B O O K, Alexandria Library, Alexandria, Egypt, 2002

Director of the Cultural Activities: Sherif Mohieeldin General Commissioner: Mohammad Fathy Abou El Naga

Consultant to the project: Kristina Nelson General Program Coordinator: Mohammad Hassan Youssef

library façade


rock salt, film projection

The works of Euclid and Archimedes are known to us today largely to the fact that they were referenced in the world’s first international library. The great Alexandrina library on Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline flourished for nearly 600 years before being destroyed in 272 A.D.  In 2002, nearly two millennia later, the library was finally replaced opposite from the northern waterfront that claims the largest ever-reading room and a spherical planetarium. The vast concrete building is cast monolithically within the world’s biggest circular diaphragm wall.

This installation consists of letters sculpted directly onto three tons of Arabic salt installed on the library plaza. It makes a direct reference to the hand-carved granite library façade, depicting all known forms of writing. Salt is generally used to “preserve” food, but in this installation, the salt platform becomes a projection screen at night, where the projected images of running water seem to erase all the letters.  It examines the aspects of the information society and systems, including publishing, literacy, and written language.  It also questions the relevance of the physical importance of library and books in the age of information technology.

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