library of exile at the Ateneo Veneto

The second part of psalm was the library of exile, a temporary pavilion housed in the Ateneo Veneto, located just off the Grand Canal near the Fenice Opera House. For over two centuries, this beautiful sixteenth-century building has been a meeting place for cultural events in Venice, founded as a forum for crucial debate and to promote connections across different communities.

For the library of exile, de Waal took over the Aula Magna room on the ground floor of the building, creating a library of almost 2,000 books by writers in exile. It was a place of voices, of travel, of language in flux. Languages are diasporic: these books, of which most are translations from the original texts, reflect the culture of translation within Venice. 

The external walls of the library were inscribed with a new text piece - a listing of the lost and erased libraries of the world.  Inside, embedded in the bookshelves, was a quartet of de Waal’s large-scale vitrines, containing porcelain vessels and page-like brackets of steel. 

Visitors were encouraged to enter, slow down and spend time reading and writing in this place for reflection. There was also a rich programme of events, performances, readings and conversations throughout the biennale.

Please see Events for more details.