Maria Barnas — That Slow Nightfall

"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries... Like all men of the Library, I have travelled in my youth; I have wandered in search of a book..."
The Library of Babel, Julio Luis Borges.

During Poetry International, poet and artist Maria Barnas responds to the exhibition Zaratán by artist Oscar Santillan presented at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art as part of Para | Fictions. Santillan’s project is fed by converging threads of research and literary reference, including the short stories and life of writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Maria Barnas is particularly interested in the fact that Borges steadily lost his sight, but continued to visit the cinema until his death in 1986. In response to this, Barnas has written a poem in brail that is presented on a light box at Witte de With.

Borges (in a 1977 lecture): "In my case, that slow nightfall, that slow loss of sight, began when I began to see. It has continued since 1899 without dramatic moments, a slow nightfall that has lasted more than three-quarters of a century. In 1955 the pathetic moment came when I knew I had lost my sight, my readers and writer's sight."

That Slow Nightfall is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2016.



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