Tamam Shud, the artist’s novel written by Alex Cecchetti, has been published! This project is a commission by The Book Lovers (David Maroto and Joanna Zielińska), which continues their research on the artist’s novel as a medium in the visual arts. Tamam Shud has emerged through a series of episodic performances and an exhibition featuring guided tours, seminars on poetry, synesthesia piano concerts, tarot readings, and dances on river stones. All of it sprinkled with mystery, humor, literary references, and biographical tidbits.

Throughout an art project that spanned over two years, during which the writing process and the artistic process intertwined, feeding each other as they evolved, a narrative was created that altered the meaning of the artworks while at the same time dictated the contents of the artist’s novel. As if the only way to understand death was through an inquiry into life, what arises when reading Tamam Shud is not the account of an individual life, but rather a reflection on the phenomenon of existence.

Tamam Shud is the post-mortem investigation of the victim into his own assassination. The only clue – found in a secret pocket sewn inside his trousers – that detectives have recovered is a fragile piece of paper torn from the pages of a book with the words Tamam Shud, “this is the end,” written on it. Experts, antiquarians, and opium smokers have been consulted. These are the last two words in the Rubaiyat, an ancient collection of esoteric poems written by a Persian poet named Omar Khayyam.

The art project and the artist’s novel are linked together as much as the life of the victim is connected to the piece of paper found in his pocket. A work of fiction only exists at the moment of its reading, its text is necessarily actualized through the reader’s imagination. Now that Tamam Shud is published, the artist only asks for it to be read, and enjoyed.

I dreamt of a lake, and I knew there were fish inside, even if I saw none. She said jump, and her voice was that of a bird, and I knew she took lessons from parrots. An artist’s novel functions just like a dream, is inside and outside of itself, and is so rich in meta-narratives it looks like a vanilla mille-feuille.

The publication of Tamam Shud is occasioned by the project The Novel As Fantasy at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, 2016–17. Initiated and curated by The Book Lovers. Details of the protracted creative process can be found here. Previously, Obieg issue no. 4 published an excerpt of Tamam Shud, which you can read here.


Managing editors: The Book Lovers

(David Maroto and Joanna Zielińska)

Published by:

Sternberg Press and Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art

Translation from the Italian:

Johanna Bishop

Graphic design:

Jakub de Barbaro

* Cover photo: Tamam Shud, artist's novel by Alex Cecchetti, edited by The Book Lovers. Courtesy of the artist, Sternberg Press, and Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art. Photo credit: Bartosz Gorka.

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