Alphabetum XI
De Bibliotheek Evert van Uitert

03.09.2022 — ongoing
3.7‰ ▶ Eric Vreedenburgh
Selectie van 26 boeken uit de bibliotheek Evert van Uitert.

Opening 24.03.2023
Met een performance door Jaap Blonk & Margreet Schuemie en toelichting door Eric Vreedenburgh.

In the new series 3.7‰, we invite special guests to select their favourite 26 books from the library collection of art historian Evert van Uitert. These books are provided with personal annotations of the guests and are displayed on the balcony of the Alphabetum. For this first edition, the selection is made by architect and researcher Eric Vreedenburgh. He will present and elaborate on his endeavour on the evening of 24 March, accompanied by a live performance by Margreet Schuemie and Jaap Blonk.

Eric Vreedenburgh on his selection
‘Mathematician Alan Turing analysed the world as made up of data and programming. In a similar manner, one could approach a library space. A library consists of a certain amount of information in the form of books, and this is presented through specific programming by, for instance, distinguishing scientific books from fiction, art and cooking books. These categories are distinguished again in alphabetical order by name of the author. Such an ordering of books takes on its own emphasis depending on culture, institute or usage. This is even more true when the library is a private collection, where books are placed according to one’s own taste.

I became fascinated when I saw the books of Evert van Uitert being brought into the Alphabetum in different boxes. My eye immediately fell on a box with a special collection of books that included a congress folder titled ‘Coincidence’. This was something I did not expect for someone who is renowned as a great Van Gogh expert. I was also taken aback when I could not find particular books in the collection, such as ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ by Martin Heidegger. In this book, only one painting is discussed, namely one by Van Gogh.

A few weeks later, all the books were unpacked and categorised meticulously. The books that were taken from the original shelves and placed together in one box, were now taken apart and ordered differently. Even though this was only sensible, it felt like a certain personal ‘enchantment by Evert’ was lost. With this, the question was raised whether it could be possible to find new associations within the collection by making a different selection. These associations could generate a new perspective, one that might already implicitly be present, yet one that remained hidden until now. This hypothesis reminded me of the opening lines in the book ‘The Order of Things’ by Michel Foucault. In this book, Foucault explores the different methods of acquiring knowledge in different time periods of Western culture. Foucault calls this the ‘épistémè’, i.e the system of ‘coding’ as an implicit element within science in its search for facts and causalities.

Foucault opens with a text of Borges on ‘a certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) suckling pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies’. With this, the usual ordering of a thought-out classification is at once radically overruled. This inspired my ambition to let a different perspective emerge by making a specific selection within the collection of Evert’s books. Departing from a seemingly random box of books, disclosed by a personal coding system, it seemed incredibly interesting to unleash this method of selection on the 7000 books of the collection.’

Eric Vreedenburgh is an architect and founder of Archipelontwerpers. He designed, among others, De Baljurk, different residencies at the Scheveningen harbour, the transformation of the Toren van Oud and the Pastorale in Delft. Several of his projects were awarded international prizes. Furthermore, he conducted research at TU Delft and he was affiliated with the Interfaculty Beeld en Geluid at the Royal Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Arts. He is also (co-)author of the books: Luchtgebonden Bouwen (Rooftop Architecture), 100 Jaar Modern Den Haag, Non-Stop Architecture, Scheveningen en de rest van de Wereld and de Onvermijdelijke Culturele Revolutie.