Galerie des Alephs: Academic Exercises Towards a Museum of Museums
Pablo Helguera, 2002.
Born in Mexico City, Pablo Helguera (1971-) is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working in New York City. Working with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, and performance, Helguera considers the relationship between fiction and history, and modes of cultural production and language. Helguera is particularly interested in the origins of museums and hermetic systems of knowledge and memory.
The Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum (Hagen, Germany) commissioned Helguera to create Galerie des Alephs: Academic Exercises Towards a Museum of Museums for the exhibition Museutopia: Steps Into Other Worlds (2002). (Another edition is part of the permanent collection of El Museo del Barrio, New York.) Resembling a glass chandelier, the sculpture is inspired by the sefirot, the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, and the writing of Jorge Luis Borges.
Detail form Galerie des Alephs: Academic Exercises Towards a Museum of Museums
Pablo Helguera, 2002.
In the Borges story The Aleph, Helguera notes that the failed poet Carlos Argentino can only write with the aid of an 'Aleph,' a locus in his basement where all other points in the universe meet. Borges (the character) encounters the “Aleph” and is overwhelmed by its infinite vision.
One can interpret Helguera’s chandelier as a lavish museological charm that spreads knowledge and enlightenment. Psalm 67, also known as Mizmor ha-Menorah/Psalm of the Candelabrum, frequently appears on amulets with its seven verses arranged in the form of a seven-branched menorah. Helguera’s sculpture features linked pieces of hollow glass hanging from its seven branches. Instead of psalms, each glass piece bears the name of different museum. Each of the chandelier’s seven sections is dedicated to a scholarly discipline: history, natural science, social science, anthropology, religion, philosophy and art, and space science.
Alazraki, Jaime. Borges and the Kabbalah: And Other Essays on his Fiction and Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.
Borges, Jorge Luis. The Aleph and Other Stories. Penguin Books, 2004.
Helguera, Pablo. Artificiosa Memoria: Mnemonic Utopia and Museums. Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum der Stadt Hagen, 2002.
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