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For two millennia the book has been expressing a set of world values and representations.
In the 1st century CE, the appearance of the codex marked nothing less than a revolution in Rome, as it made the use of the scroll gradually obsolete.

“The world is a huge book”, observed the mystical philosopher Ibn Arabi in the 12th century.
In the West it was also during the 12th century that books started to be divided into chapters, with a logical sequence and an overall plan. But beyond its contents, texts and images, the book presents a material form peculiar unto it. It is probably and above all this material form that explains its lasting success. The book came about from the fold, which enables it to stay upright, and be opened and closed. The fold divides spaces without separating them, at once apart and together, face to face, front and back, outside and inside, all brought together in one and the same volume. Otherwise put, the book makes it possible to think about the continuous in discontinuity, and the discontinuous and continuity.
With the general upsurge of electronics, since the screen has been competing with the realm of paper, and despite all the various fears expressed, the book—that perceptible object—is holding its own.

As a supreme cultural object, the book introduces into our thinking and our behaviour a special relation to time, the body, truth and the world which it contains and reveals. It thus contrasts with the computer which, without beginning or end, broadcasts truths which are many and varied, temporary, and constantly unfulfilled. Its organic body, made of hide and paper, glue, ink and thread, introduces a physical, intimate relation which no electronic object will ever be able to offer. “Devouring a book” is not just a metaphor and the vocabulary of the book often reveals its kinship with the human body, conjuring up the head, the skin, the back, and the nerves… It is not surprising, nowadays, that a great many artists have developed a deep interest in the book and its material form, transforming it, manipulating it, and appropriating it with their various forms of inspiration.

Opposite the book, and with it : the chair !

As for the book, there is no dearth of words underscoring the intimate relation between the chair and the human body and the cultural context which it is part of. The chair has referred to symbolic practices ever since humanity became sedentarized. Historically associated with power, it has acted as a throne since Antiquity, though this has not barred it from other uses. Its material and symbolic hierarchies can be found in every period in civil and domestic life, where armchairs, chairs, benches and stools earmark the rank of their users and their specific functions. Like the book, the chair has been a source of inspiration and creation for many artists, while craftsmen and designers have produced it in a thousand and one ways.

An exhibition bringing together books and chairs—art objects

Books and chairs are essential objects of mediation between people. In the spirit of the Fondation Boghossian, the term “objects of dialogue” springs readily to mind! Together, they extend human capacities for communication in space and time.
By proposing this exhibition which includes almost 200 books and chairs created by artists hailing from different cultures, the public is invited to react to these symbolic reflections and meanings.
But how are we to exhibit books which cannot be read, and chairs which cannot be sat upon? “The chair is always seated”, declared the Surrealist poet Achille Chavée…
The public is now invited on an interactive circuit where people can read and rest during their visit.

At times solemn and moving, at others droll and unexpected, the artwork-objects brought together for this exhibition at the Villa Empain form a surprising ensemble. Here, between two chairs, there is always a book, a link, a sense of wonder, and an invitation to dialogue.

Most of the works on view in this exhibition come from a private Belgian collection, which in itself forms nothing less than a living body, a world in motion where the freest and most diversified imagination reigns.

The selected artists are

Karel Adamus (Czech Republic), Jordi Alcaraz (Spain), Helena Almeida (Portugal), Anton Alvarez (Chili and Sweden), Noriko Ambe (Japan), Elodie Antoine (Belgium), Mar Arza (Spain), Christian Astuguevieille (France), Maarten Baas (Germany and Netherlands), Roger Ballen (USA and South Africa), Juan Carlos Batista (Spain), Gregor Beltzig (Germany), Mónica Bengoa (Chili), José Bento (Brasil), Julien Berthier (France), Andrea Bianconi (Italy), Jean Boghossian (Lebanon), Bram Boo (Belgium), Florian Borkenhagen (Germany), Etienne Bossut (France), Mark Brazier-Jones (New-Zeland and United Kingdom), Alfonso Brezmes (Spain), Eyal Burstein (Israel), Benjamin Rollins Caldwell (USA), Jonathan Callan (United Kingdom), Fernando & Humberto Campana (Brasil), Daniel Canogar (Spain), Giuseppe Capitano (Italy), Charley Case (Belgium), Noor Ali Chagani (Pakistan), Ka-Lai Chan (China and Netherlands), Emilio Chapela Perez (Mexico), Gad Charny (Israel), Kyungwoo Chun (South Korea), Tobias Collier (United Kingdom), Christophe Coppens (Belgium), Christopher Coppers (Belgium), José Pédro Croft (Portugal), Jacob Dahlgren (Sweden), Baptiste Debombourg (France), Muriel de Crayencour (Belgium), Paul de Guzman (Canada), Francesco De Molfetta (Italy), Boris Dennler (Switzerland), Brian Dettmer (USA), Antonio Diaz Grande (Spain), Lauren DiCioccio (USA), Tom Dixon (United Kingdom), Vincent Dubourg (France), Stéphane Ducatteau (France), EliKuka (Russia), Sammy Engramer (France), Ninar Esber (Lebanon), Héctor Falcón (Mexico), mounir fatmi (Morocco), Flavio Favelli (Italy), Hans-Peter Feldmann (Germany), Darren Foote (USA), Maddalena Fragnito De Giorgio (Italy), Aurélien Froment (France), FRP2 (Italy), Takaya Fujii (Japan), Julia Fullerton-Batten (Germany), Carlos Garaicoa (Cuba), Gelitin (Austria), Anthony Goicolea (USA), Geert Goiris (Belgium), Matt Golden (United Kingdom), Máximo González (Argentina), Luis González Palma (Guatemala), Yoeri Guépin (Netherlands), Rune Guneriussen (Norway), Tal Gur (Israel), Thomas Heatherwick (United Kingdom), Pepe Heykoop (Netherlands), Hilal Sami Hilal (Brasil), Eva Hjorth (Denmark), Chourouk Hriech (France and Morocco), Zhao Huasen (China), Richard Hutten (Netherlands), Hisae Ikenaga (Japan and Mexico), Emilio Isgrò (Italy), J & PEG (Italy), Boukje Janssen (Netherlands), Svein Fannar Johannson (Island), Michael Johansson (Sweden), Sean M. Johnson (USA), Kenneth Josephson (USA), Charles Kaisin (Belgium), Tamar Kasparian (Armenia and Belgium), André Kertész (USA), Kristof Kintera (Czech Republic), Takehito Koganezawa (Japan), Dasha Krotova (Russia), Anouk Kruithof (Netherlands), Brig Laugier (France), Soon Young Lee (South Korea and France), Wonho Lee (South Korea), Jørgen Craig Lello & Tobias Arnell (Norway), Isabelle Lenfant (Belgium), Cécile Le Talec (France), Arik Levy (Israel), Miller Levy & Olivier Liegent (France), Tim Lewis (United Kingdom), Kai Linke (Germany), Jacques Lizène (Belgium), Sharon Louden (USA), Chema Madoz (Spain), Esko Männikkö (Finland), Alicia Martin (Spain), Jeremy May (United Kingdom), Rebeca Menéndez (Spain), Eugenio Merino (Spain), Sabrina Mezzaqui (Italy), Mihael Milunovic (Serbia), Aiko Miyanaga (Japan), David Moises (Austria), Linarejos Moreno (Spain), Louise Nevelson (USA), Nurbossyn Oris (Kazakhstan), Edgar Orlaineta (Mexico), Daniele Papuli (Italy), Lucien Pelen (France), João Penalva (Portugal), Marta Maria Pérez Bravo (Cuba), Carmen and Switzerland (Bolivia), Adrien Petrucci (France), Stephane Plassier (France), Ivan Puig (Mexico), Pol Quadens (Belgium), Ilya Rabinovich (Israel and Netherlands), Sandra Ramos (Cuba), Raw-Edges (Israel and United Kingdom), Pablo Reinoso (Argentina), Téjo Remy (Netherlands), Nadine Rennert (Germany), Marc Andre Robinson (USA), Andrei Roiter (Russia), José Rufino (Brasil), David Rückli (Switzerland), Georgia Russell (United Kingdom), Doris Salcedo (Colombia), Ana Sánchez (Spain), Amparo Sard (Spain), Reiner Xaver Sedelmeier (Germany), Noah Sherwood (Canada), Chiharu Shiota (Japan), Shirley Shor (Israel and USA), Danny Simon (Israel), Janna Syvänoja (Finland), Jana Sterbak (Czech Republic and Canada), Tobias Sternberg (Sweden), Janna Syvänoja (Finland), Koji Takei (Japan), Yuken Teruya (Japan), Stéphane Thidet (France), Nazif Topçuo?lu (Turkey), Jade Townsend (USA), Hiroko Tsuchida (Japan), Massimo Uberti (Italy), Jerry Uelsmann (USA), Bob Verschueren (Belgium), Jean-Luc Vilmouth (France), Peter Weibel (Austria), Stefan Wewerka (Germany), Philip Wiegard (Germany), Sam Winston (United Kingdom), Julia Winter (Russia and Netherlands), John Wood & Paul Harrison (United Kingdom), Erwin Wurm (Austria), Tao Xue (China), Tokujin Yoshioka (Japan), Anna Zholud (Russia), Sylvie Zijlmans (Netherlands), Fiona Roberts (Australia).

exhibited artwork

  1. © 2023 monica bengoa