ASHES TO ASHES
A LIBRARY OF DESTROYED AND BURNT BOOKS
WESTERN TABOO AND CULTURAL CRUELTY CEREMONIOUSLY CARRIED ON
THE ARTIST’S VERY PERSONAL AND ECCENTRIC WAY OF LOVING
AND HONOURING HIS MOST VENERATED BOOKS
A SYMBOLIC CALL FOR URGENT NEW BOOKS FITTING THE URGENT NEW PROBLEMSAUTO DA FE': DESTRUCTION AS A VERY CONTROVERSIAL BUT TRUE ACT OF LOVE
PRECIOUS RELICS OF SELF-INFLICTED
BIBLIOCLASM: BOOK REMAINS
ASHES TO ASHES
A bonfire of books is a sort of recurring nightmare in History. Burning a library is like burning the foundations of Western civilization and it is stands for an act of strong cultural violence. Books became not only destroyed objects but mainly the victims of an intellectual kind of raping and torturing human values.
Riello approaches the artistic heritage and traditions of Western society with a hint of irony and a certain amount of “politically incorrectness”. Literature and Philosophy are the main target of this work, the selection of the books is related directly to the artist’s own education and culture showing the inner nature of artist identity. Ambiguity and cultural identity are the key words to understand this work. The ashes of the burnt books are placed in special glass urns designed and produced by the artist in collaboration with the well-known glass blower Massimo Lunardon. Every book has its own urn (on the urn is printed the title of the book, the date of first publishing, and the name of the author).
Besides having a purely aesthetic appeal, Riello’s installation is conceptually profound in that it symbolizes the notion that books are becoming relics of the past with the growth of eBooks in our technologically reliant future. The birth of the digital age has resulted in an immense collection of written work being catalogued exclusively or primarily in digital form. It has also been revealed that some public libraries feel compelled to burn surplus books in order to liberate valuable shelf space for incoming books. The intentional ‘death’ of the physical book and its replacement by a virtual digital version has often been referred to as a new form of book burning. The historical tradition of book burning, also called ‘biblioclasm’ or ‘libricide’ involved destroying, books or other written material to suppress or censor ‘heretical’ religious and political doctrines.