Participated in Processes: Artist, Work, Public where she presented Bookcase (A resting place for tired memories)

Installation and video / Wood, digital screen, angles, paper, objects found / 2014 – 2025


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It is part of the nature of a book, a good book, to be partially concealed. This impossibility of seeing and absorbing everything that was read makes the book fertile ground for artistic creation. This is why the book–work as material object can only be appreciated as conceptual work, analyzed in the context of artistic intent and it has a profound and open story. The tradition of the book–work began with Duchamp and his famous work Unhappy Readymade (1919), a book left in the open air exposed to the forces of nature and chance. If Duchamp was one of the first, other artists such as Marcelo Broodthaers, Doug Beube or the fascinating Fionna Banner also took the book as a source of inspiration and work object. The works of these and other artists are cross disciplinary, incorporating from painting to collage and photography, creating sculptural objects, installations and even performance. The artist Maimuna Adam has developed her work within this artistic tradition, bravely assuming her role as a contemporary artist.

Ever since my first meeting with Maimuna in 2011, it has been clear that the artist has a strong relationship with books. Already in 2010 Maimuna had participated in the exhibition Temporary Occupations, in the legendary Minerva bookshop in Maputo. Her relationship with this bookshop, characterized by the purchase of her laptop, not a book, reveals an ambivalent relationship between the artist and books. If, on the one hand, they are a source of inspiration and knowledge, on the other hand they create in the artist the need to transform their significance, relevance and use. This challenge has taken the artist through various artistic phases. In this first phase, the presentation of books in Minerva Central meant transforming the space, usually dedicated to the circulation of books, and a first questioning of the relationship between written narratives and visual narratives. The designs were exhibited through visual intervention that showed the relationship between the book-reader and the artist, transforming what was read into new narratives that can be read and reinterpreted together or separately.

In her more recent works, and pursuing these concerns, Maimuna takes a step forward in transforming the book as object, including the physical part of the work. In these works the artist emphasizes the haptic qualities of the book, challenging the material constraints of the book as such. Torn, painted, cut, glued pages; books that no longer look like books, these transformations are sometimes strange for a lover of a good book. However, this apparently violent material transformation is a premeditated act through which the artist proposes a metamorphosis between discourse and object, converting the book into a generic, self-referential concept. The book-object shows the hermeneutic exercise between the author and the artist: giving the book a new visual meaning, where the author’s vision of her own interpretation is recreated.

In the installation presented here the artist shows her creative process, presenting for t her private book collection he first time. In this way the artist is returning to her roots, progressing in her artistic evolution. By taking the intimacy of her thoughts to the public she creates a direct relationship with the viewer, opening new doors of understanding between the artist, the work and the public. It is no longer the artist’s interpretation of the book. In this case the artist presents a much bigger challenge; this time it is the public who must create the bridge between the written discourse in books and the visual discourse created by the artist.

In this way the artist brings about a brief lapse of intimacy between her, her work and the viewer and makes us accomplices in her creative process. – By Vanessa Diaz

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