“Unearthing Love Amidst the Ruin”  Book installation, ink on paper, 2020, Arvika Konsthall, 2020

The book that does not contain the word, Love.

As a drifter in the city, I am always about to discover a new thing, adding a story among thousands of other stories created by people in the city every day. But this day, it was different and challenging. 

One of my endearing habits is my attraction to old bookstores in Vienna. During my walk that day, coincidentally I pass by a bookstore. The bookmen in such a place are usually nerds and time travellers which make the task of finding books more accessible. But for me, finding a book in a second-hand bookshop is not an easy task as my experience is one of discovery; my eyes drift over the titles the same way as I roam around the city. 

As a war survivor, addicted to wars’ narratives, without hesitation I rummage through a pile of books about WWII. I pause at an English book written by the British ambassador in Berlin in 1939, Sir Arthur Henderson that describes “in his report to Parliament, the failure of his mission and the outbreak of war. He tells of his attempts to deal with both Hitler and von Ribbentrop to maintain peace and gives an account of the changes in German foreign policy regarding Poland.” Uncovered Editions are historic official papers which have not previously been available in a popular form. I said “This is the one”: An archival document written chronologically on how we (as humans) were not able to avoid a horrifying war. So, what can I find within it and what can I do with this book?

I did not intend to read the book carefully. As a text art-maker, my intention at first was to skim the whole book trying to find the word “Love”. I wanted to search for it even though I believed the word would not exist; in doing so, it became the heart of the subject.   

This is how my story started. Today, we live in a world on the verge of sliding towards a fall into the hatred valley, so at this moment the most precious prayer would be Love and nothing more.  

I started making fictional history by erasing a narrative of peace failure, hate speech, racism and war, and displacing the whole text with a story set during the wartime of a man and his Love for a woman narrated with two voices, the man himself and an unknown narrator that seemingly become one. The woman’s voice is not included because the story is about her. The story was conceived as been written under the art of writing letters to highlight the heartache during wartime where there is distance and separation between beloved people.

Unearthing Love Amidst the Ruin, appears as a book without a cover, without a home, spread in the space, an abstract drawing of black pages without words until intimately approached - only then does text appear.  It is a very fragile work that could be easily scattered and blown away by the air.  

Because of the editing, the way the words and sentences are separated, the story challenges the reader’s breath in poetic style and gives another layer to the story’s visual and conceptual content.  

Unearthing Love Amidst the Ruin does not have names, a location, or specific time. Its setting could be anytime anywhere, and the characters could be anyone or mere metaphors.  The only thing that we know; it was in the middle of September.