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Eve K. Tremblay, Becoming Fahrenheit 451


BUIA Gallery
541 West 23rd Street, 212-366-9915
January 10 - February 14, 2008
Reception: Thursday, January 10, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Live Performance together with Gabriela Vainsencher: 6:30 PM

BUIA Gallery is pleased to announce Becoming Fahrenheit 451, the second solo exhibition of artist Eve K. Tremblay at the gallery. In this exhibition Tremblay presents a world of photography, video, and performance based on the attempt to become a book as per an analysis of and expansion upon Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as described by the following letter by the artist to the author on the occasion of the exhibition:

‘New York, Nov 30th, 2007

Dear M. Bradbury,

I would like to invite you to the opening of my exhibition, Becoming Fahrenheit 451, opening January 10th, 2008 at BUIA Gallery in NYC. This project was inspired by your book and also by its film adaptation by François Truffaut. I first read Fahrenheit 451 as a teenager. It marked my imagination and was one of those books that made me read more and more, and I think it’s amazing to see its resonance in today’s world.

The premise of my current project is to try to become a book- to ultimately memorize a book by heart like the Book People do in your story. For a long time, I couldn’t decide which book was my favorite and then I realized that, in a way, your book, by talking about the destruction of all books, contained potentially all books. So I started to become Fahrenheit 451, to memorize the book that talked about the possible disappearance of all books, and therefore to experience a real life sort of mise-en-abîme. It was my odd strategy to make a decision and avoid the vertigo I was facing in front of doubts, the infinity of knowledge, the desire to possess it, and the impossibility of satisfying it.

I soon wished I was some sort of genius mnemonist and could memorize your book as fast as you wrote it (9 days??!!) but now it looks like it is going to take me as long as it would to finish reading Remembrance of times past by Marcel Proust. I am using different techniques- some intuitive like creating in my mind some strange invisible film remake of F451, and some ancient tricks like the Method of Loci and this imaginary path where “I walk,” and it has been and is still quite an interesting journey. I take my time with it, and I become blocked and lost on the way at times, meeting other books, books reading each other, things that make me go slower along the path, but at least at this pace, grass is not only a “green blur” like for the speedy drivers in your book.

Also… in trying to become another entity other than mine- your book for that matter- I was confronted again with questions I have regarding identity and life in general, and wondered what this desire I had to become a book might mean. I am not sure yet, but maybe it is something to do with the reassurance of knowing where the last page stands, instead of just being a living thing that has no idea when its story will end and if it will even be remembered? I don’t know…

But here I am, breaking narratives again, trying to remember to remember, and, or… no…maybe more something like trying to gather the pieces of the puzzle together, as if there were actually a big picture. But even if I try, I cannot even fool myself…

Concretely, in this exhibition you see different things like photos: fragments of mnemonic paths and portraits of book people friends of mine; videos of my friends and me memorizing in different places and countries; a short romantic scene of a book to become trying to seduce another one (and I am showing those amateurishly shot videos on different gyzmos that were anticipated by you a while ago and are now so common. There are also some objects and others surprises- a remake of a prop from Truffaut’s adaptation for example: a hollowed out TV filled with books entitled Le refuge des amis de truffaut in which I put the books that are mentioned in the last scene of his film with the Book people, but I cheated and added to the group a copy of F451 signed by you that I found on Amazon. An English translation would be Truffaut’s friends’ hide-away (I am French Canadian, which… actually makes memorizing in English an extra challenge… but my English is pretty ok so I should be fine in the end…if I get to the end!).

I was just experimenting on a possible art piece: I don’t know if you know the trick of invisible magic ink made with lemon juice? Here is an Internet link just in case Since I read in your book that Book People “burn books too” once they have finished their memorization, I wrote the first sentence of your book It was a pleasure to burn with this lemon ink on some of the pages of F451 that I learned. But I did a first test page on a German edition that I had purchased accidentally on since I live in Berlin now… then I proceeded to make the ink visible by putting the sheet over a candle to see the text appear It was a pleasure to burn … and it did gave me a strange feeling…sorry I am out of words sometimes.

I am not sure what you think of the visual art world I am in but I think you might be a little suspicious because of a quote by Clarisse in your book: “And at the museums, have you ever been? All abstract. That’s all there is now. My uncle says it was different once. A long time back sometimes pictures said things and even showed people” (but I know you wrote this in 1953…). All I can say, as a non-utopian kind of girl, full of questions and restlessness, just like in any world, whatever the world or the worlds may be, and may mean…ouf!, it is not always monochrome. And I guess, although I am a real sucker for colors, my exhibition does have pictures that say things and even show people, so maybe even Clarisse would like it. You tell me!

Anyway, all of this to say I would be so honored if you came to see my show and I would actually also very much like to do a little memorizing-recitation for you if you would like. You probably won’t be able to make it, but I am sending you this image to thank you for writing this inspirational book and I have put some of the videos on you-tube so maybe at least you can see that part online or something. My account is EKTBF451 for Eve K. Tremblay Becoming Fahrenheit 451.


Eve K. Tremblay

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of my stepfather, André Pépin, who was a passionate reader and author as well as defender of Truffaut’s films. (Pépin was the first distributor of Truffaut’s films in Canada and the United States before he signed with Universal and he gave over 1200 author films to the Cinémathèque Québécoise of Montreal during his lifetime).

I would also like to thank Gabriella Vainsencher, Amelia Saul, Garine Tarossian, Bertrand Lacombe, Mai Hofsatd Gunnes, Setareh Shabazi, Giovani Frazetto, Jonathan Lutes, Leif Magne Tangen, Mélanie Rumpermayr, Kjetil Roed, Jan Christensen, Laboratoire Boréalis et Encadrement Marcel,Le Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, La delegation du Quebec a New York.
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-6214 to see them here.