Ileana Florescu. Exhibition “Submerged Library”
21 October 2016 — 27 November 2016
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Ileana Florescu, a photographer from Italy, immerses the world's literary heritage into the Mediterranean Sea, and plunges Erarta visitors into the thoughts of the Russian literature

  • Russian and foreign classical literature stored at the sea bottom

  • Amazing images created by sunlight and sea water

  • Reflections on the future of books and human memories in the Digital Age


Did the idea of drowning Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” come to your mind when you were at school? Did you dream to throw the boring university textbook into a river? Let's be honest. At least once each of us had such thoughts in the head. But almost no one dared to implement the plan. Except for the photographer from Italy Ileana Florescu, who still does it.

But she fills this ritual with deep philosophical meanings, and creates such beautiful exhibitions as “Submerged Library” at the Erarta Museum.

Water, the fundamental element which gives birth to all the world’s creatures, is the main source of the artist’s inspiration. She admires its opposite concepts such as stillness and flow, matter and immateriality.

In the age of reckless speed, when people are wrapped-up in consumerism, pleasure and “here and now” lifestyle, the artist invites us to look back at the past. She combines two universal memory storages — books and water.  She confides her intimate treasures — her private “Library” — to the memory of the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Sardinia. And the crystal clear water along with the picturesque bottom help the artist to develop her ideas to the utmost.

The immersion of iconic world texts into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea can be perceived as a symbolic sacrifice of the fruits of human spirit to the cradle of the European civilization.

The sea becomes not only Ileana’s workshop but also the coauthor. The sea waves turn over the pages and dissolve the inks, “privatizing” the plots of the literature masterpieces.

For the St. Petersburg show at Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art the photographer added “Submerged Library” with books by the great Russian poets and writers: “Idiot” by Dostoevsky, “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy, “The Captain's Daughter” by Pushkin and others. She wanted the museum viewers to see something very familiar and precious.

It’s worth noting that “Submerged Library” at Erarta Museum features not only photographs, but also sculptures. The real art pieces created by the sea look like some old artifacts of a long-lost civilization.

“Submerged Library” exhibition will run until 27 November 2016 on the 2nd floor of Erarta Museum.


Ileana Florescu

Ileana Florescu was born in Asmara (Eritrea) to an Italian mother and an English father, who was of Romanian origin. 

After spending her childhood in Morocco, France, England and Switzerland, she settled in Italy and earned a master degree in Humanities. Despite a natural talent for painting and drawing, she entered the academic world taking part in Prof. Sergio Bertelli’s History Workshop, and specializing in the study of the Commedia dell’Arte and the rituals of Italian Renaissance courts. 

Her essays have been published by Bompiani, Mondadori, Ponte alle Grazie and Bulzoni. 

In 2001 her work “Meteorite I” was exhibited for the first time by the Pio Monti Contemporary Art Gallery in the group show “Tra Cielo e Terra”. Her first solo exhibition, “Scie”, was in 2002, curated by Diego Mormorio at the Acta International gallery in Rome. That same year, she decided to relocate her studio to the former Cerere pasta factory, historic seat of the artists’ School San Lorenzo. Lately, her works are focused on the dialogue between photography and literature and were shown in many museums ad galleries, in Italy and abroad.

Selected exhibitions


“Libri Prohibiti”, solo exhibition, Biblioteca Angelica, salone vanvitelliano, Rome “Delta ti – tempo reale”, group exhibition, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome


“Io e Calliope”, solo exhibition, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò NYU, New York 2013

“The Submerged Library”, solo exhibition, Art Bourse Riga Museum, Riga 2012

“Io e Calliope”, solo exhibition, Casa delle Letterature, Rome 2011

“Sinfonia per una terra lontana”, solo exhibition, M.K. Ciurlionis National Art Museum, Kaunas “Lunatiche”, solo exhibition, Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome


“Biblioteca scufundata”, solo exhibition, MNAC Contemporary Art National Museum, Bucharest “Biblioteca scufundata în Biblioteca Centrala”, solo exhibition, Biblioteca Centrale Universitaria, Bucharest

“Miraggi”, Intramoenia Extrart, group exhibition, Castello Alfonsino (Forte a Mare), Brindisi

“Invito all’opera: Persefone”, solo exhibition, Galleria Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome 2009

“L’umana sintesi”, solo exhibition, Galleria Studio d’Arte Contemporanea Pino Casagrande, Rome


“Mandala collettivo”, group exhibition, Università di Tor Vergata, Rome

LIX Premio Michetti, group exhibition, Mumi-Museo Michetti, Francavilla al Mare

Biennale de Photographie, group exhibition, Musée du Manège, Saint Petersburg

“Tropismi”, group exhibition, Galleria Valentina Moncada, Rome


“Grafie, viaggio sull'acqua”, solo exhibition, Galleria Armory, Perugia

“Double Sens", solo exhibition, VI Festival Internazionale di Fotografia, Galleria Studio d'Arte Contemporanea Pino Casagrande, Rome


“Double Sens”, solo exhibition, VI Festival Internazionale di Fotografia, Galleria Studio d’Arte Contemporanea Pino Casagrande, Rome

“Rapsodie in blu”, solo exhibition, Galleria Il Ponte Arte Contemporanea, Rome “Acqua dilava”, solo exhibition, Ellequadro Documenti, Genoa


“Acqua di Cometa”, solo exhibition, III Festival Internazionale di Fotografia, Galleria Valentina Moncada,Rome

“Notti bianche Islanda 07-04”, solo exhibition, Galleria Valentina Moncada, Rome


“Scie”, solo exhibition, Acta International, Rome


“Tra cielo e terra”, group exhibition, Galleria Pio Monti, Rome

current exhibitions
all exhibitions