Picture the universe as an infinity of interconnected hexagonal chambers, each stacked floor to ceiling with sagging bookshelves. That was how Argentinean author – and librarian – Jorge Luis Borges conceived of reality in his story “The Library of Babel.” More recently, curator Irena Gordon has adapted the Borgesian theme for “Reading Log,” an exhibition of works by artists Gary Goldstein and Peter Jacob Maltz that will accompany the upcoming International Writers Festival in Mishkenot Sha’ananim.

Although some were not created especially for the conference, all of the works employ distinctly literary themes that intersect broadly with Borges’s vision. And one could perhaps argue that – albeit in an antithetical setting – the story is realized to a certain extent in the convergence of writers in the labyrinthine alleys of Jerusalem.

Maltz, who was born in London and made aliya when he was four years old, will display a series of sketches that draw from books that influenced him at different stages of his life. Among these are Pinhas Sadeh’s Life as a Parable, Ecclesiastes, and Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

“Woven in Meltz’s consciousness,” the exhibition program reads, “the series... lays out a visual and linguistic process that is at once private and collective, harboring metaphorical, intellectual and emotional intersections.”

Goldstein’s half of the exhibition also uses literature as a departure point, but not merely as an overarching metaphor for existence or consciousness; his is a more literal approach – books are not only the message, but also the medium and the material.His section is divided into two parts: Comic Drawings and Rodin2.

“The drawings are on the pages of books,” Goldstein told In Jerusalem earlier this week. “I take books of art, of art history, and I begin using the pages as a platform for my ideas, my feelings, my structures.”

Like “The Library on Babel,” Goldstein said, “there are letters comprising words, comprising ideas or feelings. There are structures, like little rooms; one wanders from one to the other and [is exposed to] themes and feelings and noise which comprise a particular part of my life at a particular time.”

He agreed that the infinity of texts and possible interpretations in Borges’s universe lent itself to his own life and work, specifically to the plurality of perspectives and feelings branching off from any single experience.

“In some ways,” he said, “even in your own life, there are words, stories, meaning, feelings, images, and... at a particular time it could be interpreted in different ways... both by yourself and by other people. I think that there’s stuff going on – little stories, little words – and at different times you’re conscious of different aspects of it, oftentimes only partially.”

“Reading Log” runs from May  4 until  June at the Dwek Gallery at Mishkenot Sha’ananim. www.mishkenot.org.il/eng
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