»Babel 1«, Photo © Beryl Korot, photo: Kathleen Richards

Beryl Korot
*1945, New York (US), lives and works in New York

»Babel 1«
, pigment on handwoven linen, photographic reproduction,
× 58.9 × 6.4 cm

»Babel 2«
, pigment on handwoven linen, photographic reproduction,
× 98.4 cm


In 1980 Beryl Korot began a series of coded works on handwoven canvas that are a translation of the ancient Tower of Babel text in the Book of Genesis. The world of Babel in Mesopotamia in ca. 3,000 BCE was a world moving away from a herding society toward a more agricultural and urban society. It was a world impacted by bitumen, used as mortar for fired bricks, as the society transitioned from a gods-centered world to one more human-centered where the bricks themselves – and the ziggurats containing them – were worshipped. The Bible story questions the social implications of such an advance in technology. The unity expressed in the first line »and the whole Earth was of one language and of one speech«, is replaced at the end of the story by a scattered race of humans who no longer understand one another.

The abstract coded language itself can be contemplated as pure form, as it reveals the universal shape of all language: small packets of information placed in a linear manner, separated by spaces, whether horizontal or vertical.


Courtesy of bitforms gallery, New York

»Babel 2«, Photo © Beryl Korot, Foto: John Berens