VOL. 8
Mallarmé, Le Livre



“Everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book.” —Mallarmé

Under the generic title Mallarmé, Le Livre Klaus Scherübel operates since 1999 an interdisciplinary and ungoing project dedicated to French poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s utopian endeavor from the 19th century known as Le Livre.

For more than thirty years, Mallarmé (1842-1898)—best known for his seminal poem in prose Un coup de dès jamais n’abolira le hasard(1897/1914)—was engaged with this highly ambitious work, that he envisioned as a cosmic text-architecture: an extremely flexible structure that would reveal nothing short of “all existing relations between everything.” This “Grand Œuvre,” wholly freed from the subjectivity of its author and containing the sum of all books was, for Mallarmé, the essence of all literature and at the same time a “very ordinary” book. The realization of this “pure” work that he planned to publish in an bestseller-like edition of 480,000 copies never progressed beyond its conception and a detailed analysis of structural and material questions relating to publication and presentation. Yet to Mallarmé, Le Livre, which was to found the “true cult of modernity,” was by no means a failure. “Impersonified, the volume, to the extend that one separates from it as author, does not demand a reader, either,” he explained in one of his final statements, “As such, please note [...] it takes place all by itself: finished, it exists.” From this point onward, Le Livre became the announcement for and expectation of the work that it is.

In Mallarmé, Le Livre Scherübel acts as both editor and promoter of Mallarmé’s invisible and almost forgotten masterpiece. In a gesture that highlights Le Livre’s contradictory status as both impossible to realize (as a book) and fully realized (as a conceptual work), he produced and edited a “cover” for Le Livre in the dimensions specified by Mallarmé more than a hundred years ago. This “specific” publication, existing to date in five different languages, bears all the hallmarks of a standard dust jacket, including an ISBN and a back cover text. This dust jacket wraps around a block of white styrofoam to form the “bookstore version,” distributed in bookshops and public libraries.

The “bookstore versions” are concurrently part of the large-scale installation, Mallarmé, Le Livre (salle de lecture), which—presented for the first time in 2005 in its French edition—consists of various paratextual elements covering a variety of media including a sculptural blow-up version corresponding to the typical promotional copies for literature bestsellers, a prologue to Le Livre in form of a video lecture, a series of photographs documenting the presence of the “bookstore versions” in bookstores and public libraries, a work on paper relating to Mallarmé’s manuscript as well as an all-over wall-painting in the same color as the cover. Taking the hybrid form of a large promotional display and information room, Scherübel’s installation sheds light on the conceptual foundations of Mallarmé’s enterprise while foregrounding the means and processes by which a standard book gains public existence.

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"Mallarmé, Das Buch", Cologne, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2001, pages [0], 24 cm, ISBN 3-88375-471-4
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"Mallarmé, The Book", New York, Printed Matter Inc., 2004, pages [0], 24 cm, ISBN 0-89439-012-0
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre", Montréal / Luxembourg, Optica / Fondation Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, 2005, pages [0], 24 cm, ISBN 2-922085-10-4
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"Mallarmé, Het Boek", Brussels, mfc–michèle didier, 2009, pages [0], 24 cm, ISBN 2-930439-04-1
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"Mallarmé, O Livro", São Paulo, Edições Tijuana, 2014, Pages [0]; 24 cm, ISBN 978-85-64324-06-0
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre (Compilation)", 1999-2009. Set of 4 offset printed dust jackets, polystyrene, blister, 24 x 16 x 3,6 cm (each). Courtesy mfc-michèle didier, Brussels/Paris
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
http://klausscheruebel.com/files/gimgs/17_07klausscheruebelmallsp500.jpg
“Mallarmé, O Livro (Gabinete de Leitura)”, 1999–2014 [Mallarmé, O Livro (Reading Room)] Installation view, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, São Paulo, 2014 Photo: Edouard Fraipont
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"Mallarmé, The Book", New York, Printed Matter Inc., 2004, ISBN 0-89439-012-0
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"Mallarmé, The Book", New York, Printed Matter Inc., 2004, ISBN 0-89439-012-0
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"Mallarmé, Het Boek (Poster)", 1999-2009. Laminated inkjet print on dipond, 225 x 150 cm. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent, 2009
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"Mallarmé, Het Boek (Leeszaal)", 1999–2009. [Mallarmé, Het Boek (Reading Room)] Installation, 20 parts, mixed media. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent, 2009
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"Mallarmé, The Book (Introductory Remarks)", 1999-2009. Black-and-white video transferred to DVD, 6:57 min (loop), monitor, text on handout
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre (Feuillets II)", 1999-2009. Detail. Pencil on xerox copies, 26 folios, 130 x 450 cm
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"Mallarmé, Het Boek (Leeszaal)", 1999–2009. [Mallarmé, Het Boek (Reading Room)] Installation, 20 parts, mixed media. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent, 2009
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"Mallarmé, Das Buch / Mallarmé, The Book / Mallarmé, Le Livre / Mallarmé, Het Boek (Bookstore Editions)", 1999-2009. 4 dust jackets, 4 perspex supports, caption on label, vitrine, 110 x 160 x 70 cm
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"Mallarmé, Das Buch (On Location. Bookstore, Germany)", 1999-2001. Chromira-print, framing, 53 x 63 cm
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre (On Location. Université du Québec à Montréal, Bibliothèque des Arts, Montréal, QC, Canada)", 1999-2009. Chromira-print, framing, 53 x 63 cm
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"Mallarmé, The Book (On Location. The British Library, London, Great Britain)", 1999-2005. Chromira-print, framing, 53 x 63 cm
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre (salle de lecture)",[Mallarmé, Le Livre (Reading Room)], 1999–2005. Installation view, Optica, Montreal, 2005. Photo: Denis Farley
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"Mallarmé, Le Livre (salle de lecture)",[Mallarmé, Le Livre (Reading Room)], 1999–2005. Installation view, Optica, Montreal, 2005. Photo: Denis Farley
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"Mallarmé, The Book (Promotional Copy)", 1999-2004. Laminated Lambda print, board, pedestal, Perspex top, 180 x 80 x 80 cm