Edmund de Waal, library of exile, 2019
© SKD, Foto: Oliver Killig

library of exile

Edmund de Waal, Zuzanna Janin, Mark Justiniani and the Damascus Room

The exhibition is named after Edmund de Waal’s library of exile installation, now on display in Dresden following its first stop in Venice. The library holds over 2,000 books, often in translation, by authors from ancient times until the present day, who were exiled from their homes. It reflects ideas of migration, exile and of conversation in many different languages.



  • DATES 30/11/2019—16/02/2020

[Translate to English:] Film

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library of exile: Edmund de Waal, Zuzanna Janin, Mark Justiniani und das Damaskuszimmer in Dresden

In the exhibition

In the exhibition, library of exile is accompanied by two other extensive installations and the hand-crafted Damascus Room. They look at different aspects of the fundamental questions of home, homelessness and memory, life between cultures and hospitality.

Meissen plates from the von Klemperer Collection

The 18 plates from a Meissener table service dating back to 1760 are haunting testimonies of displacement and loss, as well as restitution and reconciliation. They are part of the estate of the Jewish von Klemperer family, who fled from Dresden in 1938 and whose collection was confiscated and handed over to the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection). The plates suffered extensive damage during the bombing in 1945. After the war, some complete pieces and numerous shards were discovered and eventually returned to the family. Edmund de Waal bought the plates at auction, and invited Japanese artist Maiko Tsutsumi to reassemble them using the traditional Kintsugi method of mending with gold lacquer.

Porzellanteller mit Vögeln und goldenen Bruchstellen
© Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist
Teller aus einem Meissener Tafelservice, um 1760, Sammlung Klemperer

Edmund de Waal, library of exile

In library of exile, Edmund de Waal acknowledges the work of writers who have been and are forced to migrate between cultures and languages. The library includes over 2,000 works by exiled authors, translated into a wide range of languages. The library’s outer walls are covered in porcelain applied in liquid form, onto which a list of lost and erased libraries has been written. Visitors are encouraged to sit and read the books, to write their name in a book plate, or leave a record of their personal history of exile and migration in the book of exile.

© SKD, Foto: Oliver Killig
Edmund de Waal, library of exile, 2019

[Translate to English:] impressionen

Zuzanna Janin, Corner I and II

Born in Warsaw, artist Zuzanna Janin’s works focus on identity and home, drawing inspiration from her personal experiences. Her family home in Warsaw was ravaged during the Second World War. Since the 1990s, she has frequently used light silken materials for her artworks, which are inserted into the exhibition space like an architectural structure. Visitors can walk through the silken spatial sculptures and feel how changeable and unstable the places we call home can be.

© Zuzanna Janin & Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Oliver Killig
Zuzanna Janin, Corner I und II Sammlung Hoffmann

Mark Justiniani, The Well

Filipino artist Mark Justiniani’s work The Well suggests a space extrapolated to innity by reections, in which illusion and reality blend into one. At this year’s Venice Biennale, Justiniani was the featured exhibitor at the Philippines pavilion with an extensive installation, also dedicated to innite reflections of humanity and its environment. In the work produced exclusively for the Japanisches Palais (Japanese Palace), a stack of books – symbolising knowledge – represents the spine of the human life cycle.

© SKD, Foto: Oliver Killig
Mark Justiniani, The Well

Damascus Room

On the rst oor of the Japanisches Palais (Japanese Palace), the Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden (Dresden Museum of Ethnology) gives visitors a look behind the scenes of the Damascus Room restoration process, before the complex project is completed next year. The reception room of an old Damascene town house built in 1810 itself is a collective space, in which an entirely new cultural context is being recreated and which builds bridges to Syrian communities in Dresden, among others, ‘in the diaspora’.

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Oliver Killig
Damaskuszimmer im Japanischen Palais Restaurierungsstand November 2019

[Translate to English:] Damaskuszimmer

Learn more about the Damascus Room

[Translate to English:] Blog

SKD Blog

Meet the artist: Edmund de Waal

Artist and writer Edmund de Waal speaks about his work "library of exile" as well as 18 Meissen plates from the Klemperer Collection

SKD Blog

Artist Talk with Edmund de Waal, Mark Justiniani and Zuzanna Janin

On the occasion of the exhibition opening of "library of exile" Julia Weber, director Porzellansammlung and Léontine Meijer-van Mensch, director Völkerkundemuseen in Leipzig, Dresden, Herrnhut discussed with three artists

© SKD, Foto: Oliver Killig
SKD Blog

Artist Talk with Edmund de Waal and Maiko Tsutsumi

Edmund de Waal invited Japanese artist Maiko Tsutsumi to reassemble the 18 plates using the traditional Kintsugi method of mending with gold lacquer

Meissener Teller aus der Sammlung von Klemperer
© SKD, Foto: Oliver Killig


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