The Book of Mud is a manifesto, a reverie, a story of earth and water. From floods and deluges to droughts and water scarcity, mud is the materialisation of the aquatic reality of our world. Neither land nor water, yet also both, mud embodies an in-between state—a rich space for imagination.
Ali Cherri, the Paris-based Lebanese multidisciplinary artist, conceives The Book of Mud as an exploration of the past and the ways in which it inscribes itself physically: eroding, shaping, reforming, becoming itself through upheaval and destruction. In this project, Cherri is a storyteller in conversation with writers in both English and Arabic. Together they unveil the story of the mud – “… a story of perpetually shifting geographies, of elemental forces and terrain that cracks and rumbles and breaks over eons into new topographical formations. If mud had its own memory, what might it deem worth remembering?”
In this book of memory, Cherri understands mud as the vessel and the water within, as the brick that roots us to place and home, and the river that carries us to exploration elsewhere. Deeply embedded in narratives of creation, mud grounds life in a cycle that always finds its way back into the earth.
Artefacts, collected and encased in mudbrick, accompany the book to symbolise this timeless process. Worldly values embodied by these objects are once again ‘grounded,’ returned to the earth from which they came. A silkscreen print visualises a field of mudbricks drying in the sun, uniting earth and water as the building blocks of civilization. This art object, the culmination of a two-year project, features books, silkscreen, and mudbrick enclosed in a handcrafted white wooden box.
Limited Edition of 65
Story by Ali Cherri
English Text | Lina Mounzer
Arabic Text | Mariam Janjelo
Design | Reza Abedini
Assistant Designer | Lama Barakat
Photography | Kassem Dabaji
Printing and Binding | Riad Youssef
Cover | Black fabric, Foil debossing
Inside pages | Offset printing on Freelife Vellum (140 gsm)
Binding | Double bound hardback
Printed in Beirut, Lebanon
Unique piece, 2019 | Artifact from the artist’s collection nested in handmade, sun-dried mudbrick
Made in Deux-Sèvres, France | Frantz Lavenu
Silkscreen printed in two colors on Oikos extra white (100 gsm) signed and numbered by the artist
Edition of 65 Printed in Beirut by Salim Samara
Carved beech massif, plywood, and MDF painted white host the book and brick with a pullout drawer and a plexiglass lid