Tamam Shud

Alex Cecchetti


Artist Novel, 18.7 x 11.7 cm, 268 p, language: English, publisher: Berlin: Sternberg Press, ISBN: 9783956793981.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2029/520).

Literary synopsis

Tamam Shud is the post-mortem investigation of the victim into his own assassination. The only clue—found in a secret pocket sewn inside his trousers—that detectives have recovered is a fragile piece of paper torn from the pages of a book with the words Tamam Shud, 'this is the end,' written on it. Experts, antiquarians, and opium smokers have been consulted. These are the last two words in the Rubaiyat, an ancient collection of esoteric poems written by a Persian poet named Omar Khayyam.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

Throughout an art project that spanned over two years, during which the writing process and the artistic process intertwined, feeding each other as they evolved, a narrative was created that altered the meaning of the artworks while at the same time dictating the contents of the artist’s novel. Tamam Shud has emerged through a series of episodic performances and an exhibition featuring guided tours, seminars on poetry, synesthesia piano concerts, tarot readings, and dances on river stones. All of it sprinkled with mystery, humour, literary references, and biographical tidbits. As if the only way to understand death was through an inquiry into life, what arises when reading Tamam Shud is not the account of an individual life, but rather a reflection on the phenomenon of existence. The publication of Tamam Shud is occasioned by the project The Novel As Fantasy at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2016–17), curated by The Book Lovers.

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