During my last trip to Paris, I had the chance to interview the two curators of the Oulipo exhibition at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Camille Bloomfield and Claire Lesage. It was a real privilege to have access to the rooms, and to be authorized to film at the Arsenal before the doors opened to the public. The exhibition has aroused a lot of press interest and has also been a great success with the public.
The Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal has an exceptional collection on the Oulipo, since a large part of the group’s archives are held there.
As part of my series of interviews on the Oulipo, I wanted to ask the two curators about how they dealt with the materiality of the Oulipian texts in the exhibition. They explained the work they had carried out with exhibition space designers, and we spoke a lot about the Oulipian games they had installed. Visitors to the exhibition were able to play a number of games with words or phrases printed on wooden stands or plastic-coated fabrics. These games were aesthetically very pleasing.
Camille Bloomfield and Claire Lesage are also in charge of the catalogue (now completely sold out!) and they have tried as far as possible to make it an Oulipian object in itself: they have included play with cut-outs on the cover, and also original texts especially written by several Oulipio writers for the catalogue (identifiable through a yellow colour code).
I will soon post extracts from this interview online: watch this space!
The success of this exhibition is well-deserved, Camille Bloomfield, Claire Lesage and their team have taken up the challenge of displaying manuscripts, books and objects not designed for museum use, and they have made the experience playful and fun.
The exhibition “littérature en jeu(x)“ was held at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris from 18 November 2014 to 15 February 2015. For more information, the press kit is available at: http://www.bnf.fr/documents/dp_oulipo.pd
You can also have a look at: BNF
Key words: Oulipo, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Camille Bloomfield, Claire Lesage, « littérature en jeu(x) », materiality of writing, play, interview
With many thanks to Theano Petrou for the English translation of this post.