To mark the opening of Ah, my beautiful Venus!, a new series of works by artist Rayyane Tabet, commissioned for Para | Fictions, we host an in-conversation between the artist and Witte de With curator Natasha Hoare.

Ah, my beautiful Venus!

In this latest edition of the Para | Fictions series, and part of his wider project on Max von Oppenheim’s excavation in Syria, Rayyane Tabet draws together narrative threads to piece together an account of the “Tell Halaf Venus”, a commemorative grave figure from the Neo-Hittite period. His literary and associative research is extended in an installation that follows this one sculpture through cycles of unearthing, violence, and display, traced through literary sources of Agatha Christie, Max von Oppenheim and André Malraux. Here, truth is stranger than fiction; indeed the Tell Halaf Venus seems to fictionalise herself across millennia of creation, burial, excavation, destruction, replication and reconstruction.

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Para | Fictions

Ah, my beautiful Venus! is presented as part of Para | Fictions, a cycle of sustained investigations taking as its focus the relationship between literature and visual art through the practice of ten artists; Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, Mark Geffriaud, Laure Prouvost, Oscar Santillan, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Lucy Skaer and Rayyane Tabet. Each project on display presents a different artistic methodology, constituting a combination of each artist's visual interests and literary underpinnings, to seek the viability of repositioning ‘reference’ as ‘form’, ‘translation’ as ‘co-authorship’.

—Supported by