artist’s novel

Tamam Shud

Edited by The Book Lovers (Joanna Zielińska, David Maroto)

The Tamam Shud narrative has emerged through a series of episodic performances and an exhibition by Alex Cecchetti at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, featuring guided tours, seminars on poetry, synesthesia piano concerts, tarot readings, and dances on river stones. 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.

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.

The art project and the artist’s novel are linked together as much as the life of the victim is connected to the piece of paper found in his pocket. A work of fiction only exists at the moment of its reading, its text is necessarily actualized through the reader’s imagination. 

I dreamt of a lake, and I knew there were fish inside, even if I saw none. She said jump, and her voice was that of a bird, and I knew she took lessons from parrots. An artist’s novel functions just like a dream, is inside and outside of itself, and is so rich of meta-narratives it looks like a vanilla mille-feuille.

The publication of Tamam Shud is occasioned by the project The Novel As Fantasy at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, 2016–2017, initiated and curated by The Book Lovers.

Graphic design of the publication by Jakub de Barbaro was awarded the Polish Graphic Design Award and distincted in the competition The Most Beautiful Books 2018 organised by the Polish Association of Book Publishers.

  • Text in English
  • Graphic design: Jakub de Barbaro
  • Softcover
  • 12 × 18,8 cm, 288 pages
  • ISBN 978-3-95679-398-1
  • Published by the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art and Sternberg Press
  • Warsaw 2018
Tamam Shud