Literary synopsis: Tarot Arcane VI, The Lover, depicts a young man lost in indecision between two options. His eyes point to a woman, whilst his arms are directed towards another. Even his clothes, a multicolored doublet, reflects his state of internal division. The protagonist of Illusion is also immersed in a process of progressive fragmentation, leading to an unpredictable end. The narrator tells a story that happened to him time ago, when he was in his twenties, in which he goes through a series of experiences that he, at that moment, was not in conditions to understand. It is only in retrospective that he is able to give account of it. In Illusion, characters are not aware of their being constantly changing and redefining in relation to their environment and the others. This alienating nature goes to an extreme with the protagonist, who is always in the need of a model to imitate. The problem is that, the closer he is of that model, the more he enters in competition with it in order to attain the object of their desires.

Art project description: To make Illusion, Maroto departed from preexisting narrative works of his own production, such as sound pieces, video animations, leporellos, installations… He then removed their sound and visual components, so that eventually it resulted in a collection of loose narrative texts, which he took as the basic materials to write Illusion. All these pieces were integrated wihtin the text of Illusion, which became in this way a sort of patchwork of different, unconnected art pieces whose seams might not be obvious at first sight. Conversely, as the writing of Illusion progressed, it gave way to new, autonomous projects. The reader of Illusion has two options. She can read it as a regular novel, with a storyline, characters, and so on. But there is also the option to get an expanded reading experience, by relating each passage to each particular work from where it comes. Those works are, in turn, also made of fragments of images and sounds, which refer to other pictures, texts and so on. Illusion thus functions as the axis of a constellation of narrative works that ultimately refer their meaning to it.

The project does not end with the publication of the book. A new dimension begins with it, because the meaning of a novel is to be read. It only exists in the here and now when someone is reading it. This simple performative act, that of reading, is the basis of a number of art projects that develop around the book, such as the Illusion Reading Room (11th Havana Biennial, 2012) and the Illusion Buzzword Bingo (Artium Museum, Spain, 2012).

If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature. Sol Lewitt, Sentences on Conceptual Art

This is not a poem. It is only a text, one whose intention on this occasion is to clarify the difference between a simple text put in the play of art, and one defined by a literary tradition. Joseph Kosuth



Project for 11th Havana Biennial, within the project Open Score

La Habana, Cuba

From May 11 to June 11, 2012

Centro Hispanoamericano de la Cultura. Malecón 17 e/ Prado y Cárcel

Illusion Reading Room is a participative installation: there is a pile of 500 copies of my novel Illusion and two armchairs. In one of them, a permanent reader is reading out loud from the novel. Public are welcome to take one copy of the novel with them for free. It is only asked to do one thing in exchange: to sit down in the vacant armchair and take it over from the reader, by reading out loud a few pages for the rest of the audience. In this way, public become part of the installation as temporary performers, and the novel is read continuously without interruption throughout the whole duration of the Biennial.

Video summary Illusion Reading Room. 5′ 55”, English subtitles.

Illusion Reading Room es una instalación participativa. En el espacio se encuentran dos sillones, uno de ellos vacante. En el otro hay una persona leyendo la novela Illusion en voz alta. Entre los dos sillones hay una pila formada por 500 ejemplares de Illusion. Se invita al espectador a tomar de la pila un ejemplar de la novela, gratis, siempre y cuando se siente en el sillón vacante y lea en voz alta unas cuantas páginas. Durante lo cual el lector permanente para de leer y guarda silencio. De este modo, el espectador se convierte en agente activo y performativo, leyendo pasajes para los otros espectadores que en ese momento se encuentren en el espacio de la instalación. Asimismo, la novela es leída sin interrupción durante la duración de la Bienal.

Vídeo resumen Illusion Reading Room. 5′ 55”, subtítulos en castellano.

For over 405 years, from July 25th, 1518 until March 3rd, 1924, the Holy Qur’an was perpetually recited, day and night, in the Department of Mohammed’s Cloak in the Topkapi Palace, in Istanbul.”

Thanks to the generous support of Mondriaan Fund

Thanks also to the work of the permanent readers, actresses from the theater company El Ciervo Encantado: Nelda Castillo, Mariela and Inés



Solo exhibition in Artium, museum of contemporary art of Vitoria (Spain)

Within the Praxis program

23rd April-24th June

Fanzine de la exposición (español)

In Illusion – Disillusion the exhibition space will be transformed in a sort of “game room”. A compilation of works that connect both Illusion (art project in the form of a novel) and Disillusion (art project in the form of a board game) will be displayed. All of them are eminently participative and multidisciplinary. David Maroto’s practice focuses on the crossover between literature and visual arts, on the one hand, and the use of games as a creative method, on the other. The idea is that the spectator acquires an active role in the process of reception of the work, not only by playing/executing each piece separately, but also when reconstructing the network of relations that lead from one work to the next one.

Public conversation with curator Blanca de la Torre + Illusion Buzzword Bingo in the evening of 25th April. Illusion Buzzword Bingo is the name of a collective game based on an art project in the form of a novel, called Illusion, by David Maroto. Bingo cards are distributed amongst the audience, with the particularity that they do not contain the usual 1-to-90 numbers, but words (a different combination of words in each card). A reader reads a passage of the novel Illusion out loud. Participating public will cross out words in their cards as they appear in the text when uttered during the reading. Like in the original game, there is a prize for the player who calls out “bingo”; this is, for the one who crosses out all words in their card before anyone else does.

Illusion-Disillusion consiste en la creación de un espacio que casi podría denominarse “salón de juegos”. Se mostrarán una selección de obras que conectan  Illusion (proyecto artístico en forma de novela) y Disillusion (proyecto artístico en forma de juego de mesa). Todas ellas poseen un carácter eminentemente participativo y multidisciplinar. La práctica artística de Maroto gira alrededor del cruce entre literatura y artes visuales por un lado, y en el uso del juego como método artístico por otro. La idea es que el espectador adquiera un rol activo en el proceso de recepción de la obra, no solo al jugar/ejecutar cada una de ellas por separado, sino también al reconstruir el entramado de relaciones que las vinculan y que llevan de una a otra.

Conversación pública con la comisaria Blanca de la Torre + Illusion Buzzword Bingo la tarde del 25 de abril. Illusion Buzzword Bingo es el nombre de un juego colectivo basado en un proyecto artístico en forma de novela, llamado Illusion, de David Maroto. Cartones de bingo son repartidos entre el público, con la particularidad de que no contienen los acostumbrados números del 1 al 90, sino palabras (una combinación de palabras diferente en cada cartón). Un lector lee en voz alta un pasaje de la novela Illusion. El público participante habrá de tachar las palabras en su cartón según van apareciendo en el texto y sonando a lo largo de la lectura. Como en el juego original, hay un premio para aquel que cante bingo, esto es, para aquel que tache todas las palabras en su cartón antes que los demás.

Seven Stamps: At the entrance of the exhibition space there is a free publication (a fanzine) available for all visitors. On the last page, you will find some coupons which will be stamped in accordance with the results obtained when you play each game in the gallery. Just by playing one of the games you will get 1 stamped coupon. Obtaining a specific result (winning Disillusion or Empathy, completing the Puzzle, resolving the Tangram, etc.) is worth extra stamps. The gallery attendant will be responsible for providing the corresponding stamps. Next to each piece you will find the rules of the game to play or activate each one. When you obtain 7 stamped coupons, you can exchange your fanzine for a free ticket to the museum.

Siete Sellos: A la entrada del espacio expositivo hay una publicación gratis (un fanzine) a disposición de los espectadores. En la última página encontrarás unos cupones que se van sellando en virtud de los resultados alcanzados al jugar cada pieza presente en la sala. El hecho mismo de jugar una de las piezas vale 1 cupón estampado. Conseguir un cierto resultado (ganar a Disillusion o Empatía, completar el Puzzle, resolver el Tangram, etc.) vale sellos extra. El vigilante de sala se encargará de estampar los sellos correspondientes. Junto a cada pieza encontrarás las reglas para jugar o activar cada una de ellas. Cuando consigas 7 cupones estampados, puedes canjear este fanzine por una entrada gratis al museo.



Long-term project on artist novels (2012-2013), in collaboration with curator and writer Joanna Zielinska 

Participating institutions: M HKA (Antwerp), EFA Project Space (New York City), among others

Sometimes we totally immerse ourselves in a novel. We feel like we are part of it, we dream of what is going to happen next. Printed words are transcribed into events, images and places in our heads… Visual arts books have been used for years but it is only now that narrative writing is becoming an artistic practice. Many avant-garde artists wrote but their writing was divorced from making art. In recent years, more and more projects have appeared combining literature with visual works. The strategy is reminiscent of the work of Henry Darger, who was probably the first to create a complex piece on the border of writing and art – a fantasy novel of over 15000 pages with numerous illustrations.

Works created in relation to a written book do not have to be illustrations; they can serve as an autonomous work of art, a continuation or an addition to the novel. Thus the convention of an artist’s book (or book as an object) or a graphic novel where text and illustrations are inseparable and complement each other is defied. Has literature become a new tool for creating expanded narrations in visual arts? Is it justified to talk about a new phenomenon in contemporary art? What are the consequences for the production process when adopting a purely textual form, moreover a narrative? What link remains to visual arts? Is it possible to find a relation to conceptual art, or is this an entirely different artistic form?

The project The Book Lovers is divided in three parts, an online database and collection of artist novels – an exhibition – and a public program with performances, talks, interviews, public reading of artist novels… Currently we are working on the first part: We are gathering a collection of artist novels and creating a parallel online database that will complement the background information of each item, from the literary and the artistic perspectives. Both collection and database are being hosted by M HKA (contemporary art museum, Antwerp, Belgium). There will be a public presentation in the museum later on this year.  The collection of artist novels includes, among others: Carl Andre, Bernadette Corporation, Keren Cytter, Salvador Dalí, Liam Gillick, Goldin+Senneby, Pablo Helguera, Joseph Kosuth, Jana Leo, Mai-Thu Perret, Tom McCarthy, Richard Prince, Alexandre Singh, Andy Warhol… to a total of around 90 titles.


14th June 2011: Book launch and panel discussion in

Narrative Objects: A discussion about the artist’s novel, audience, and protracted engagements

601 W. 26th Street, Suite 1755

New York, NY 10001


Hours: Thu-Sat, 1-6pm

When you open a novel –and I mean of course the real thing- you enter into a state of intimacy with its writer… Such a writer has power over distraction and fragmentation, and out of distressing unrest, even from the edge of chaos, he can bring unity and carry us into a state of intransitive attention.

Saul Bellow, The Distracted Public, 1994


601Artspace presents Narrative Objects: A discussion about the artist’s novel, audience, and protracted engagements.  In its most common form, the novel involves a coherent sequence that unfolds around an interrelated set of characters. Taking his novel Illusion as a starting point, artist David Maroto proposes a dual purpose for the artist’s novel: For the artist, the novel serves as a conceptual proposition, linking narratives within other art projects and generating new ideas, but as an artwork in and of itself, the artist’s novel acts as a more humble contribution to the sweeping history of literary prose. Joined by Christopher Ho (artist, curator and author) and Alexander Campos (Center for Book Arts), the panel will discuss how the artist’s novel measures up against other novels and whether increasing interest in the novel among visual artists is intended to counteract tendencies of perpetual distraction. The panel will be moderated by Erin Sickler (601Artspace). Related books and other materials from the participants will be available at the event.

Alexander Campos has over 20 years experience in Arts Management, with positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Since 2004 he has serve as executive director of the Center for Book Arts, during which time he has organized numerous major exhibitions and overseen the expansion of the Center’s Visual Arts Program.

Christopher K. Ho’s conceptual work examines the possibilities and parameters of advanced art today.  For his 2010 solo exhibition at Winkleman Gallery, Regional Painting, Ho created a series of paintings and an eponymous memoir under the guise of a fictional alter ego, painter Hirsch E.P. Rothko, all while living for a year in a license plate covered shed in the southwest mountains of Colorado.

David Maroto is a Spanish artist based in The Netherlands whose work has been shown internationally. His wide-ranging practice has led him to exhibit his work on psychoanalysis at the Freud Dreams Museum in St Petersburg, whereas his 8-year project to create a board game lead tot he inclusion of his project Disillusion at the Internationale Spieltage in 2006 (Essen, Germany) and other game fairs worldwide.  Illusion represents Maroto’s newest interdisciplinary work.

Erin Sickler is Director of Curatorial Programs at 601Artspace.

We greatly acknowledge the Consulate General of Spain for their support of this event.




Ya se puede adquirir Illusion via y CreateSpace eStore. Versión en español (English version coming soon)

Para adquirir Illusion:

Simplemente hay que proceder como con cualquier otro libro adquirido a través del portal, siguiendo cualquiera de estos vínculos:

Especificaciones técnicas / Technical specifications:

Rústica / Paperback

220 páginas / pages

Tamaño / Dimensions: 13 x 20 cm  / 5.25” x 8”

ISBN-13: 978-1456599225
ISBN-10: 1456599224

Precio / Price: 15 € / 20 $


Index of chapters:

1. Un recuerdo

2. 6 + 6

3. Slave Chain

4. Infierno

5. Rendición

6. Adieu

7. Casa Diógenes

See post published in The End of Collection blog, by Joanna Zielinska:


Chapter 1: A memory

I am a little boy and I am at home, in the living-room. My parents are talking in the kitchen. I can hear them from here. I can see their silhouettes through the door’s glass. Usually they fight, but today they are speaking in a relaxed tone, which is new for me. For once, I pay attention to what they are saying:

-You know, Maria, when I was young, life seemed like a fire that burns, that never will go out… but then, unnoticed, it starts going out and ends up as a pile of ashes that you cannot rekindle. Sometimes I feel as if I have lived the photocopy of a life.

At that moment I decide that I don’t want to be like my father.


Excerpt from chapter 7:  Casa Diógenes

I was told that my father was found dead in his apartment. The accumulating stench of decomposition had alerted the neighbors who, in turn, had alerted the police. I had been warned about what I was going to find in his apartment. I may have lost contact with the old man a long time ago, but he had lost contact with the world long before. I put the key into the lock, turned it, and opened the door. It was dark. Searching with my right hand I found the light switch. I flipped it. Certainly, I had been warned, but it had not prepared me.

The apartment was full to the top with all kinds of objects the old man had accumulated throughout the years. Objects most likely found on the street, with no apparent value, piled up and occupied all available space. Amid the great agglomeration of junk, there was just enough space left for a narrow corridor; a sort of path through which it was possible to advance, not without difficulty, toward each room. Wandering around in the glorious mess, I found some artifacts and images that begged my attention more than others. Put up with pins on the wall there was a reproduction of what seemed to be an ancient engraving depicting a rhinoceros in profile. Hanging in a similar fashion directly below it was a cutout text:


It is a well-known fact that Dürer never actually saw his rhinoceros. His depiction was based on a sketch included in a letter from the Moravian printer Valentin Ferdinand. Durer’s rhinoceros became very popular, and was accepted as an accurate representation of a rhinoceros across Europe until the late 18th century. For hundreds of years, the general conception of the animal was based on a reproduction of an image, which itself was based on somebody else’s sketch. Until the late 1930s, Dürer’s rhinoceros appeared in school textbooks in Germany as a faithful image of the animal.

I unpinned the picture and text from the wall; I folded them and placed them into my pocket. As I navigated the formidable hodgepodge of accumulated things, I reflected on my actions: selecting a particular piece from that jungle, among the countless others. “This is an appropriation of an appropriation,” I said to myself. A while after the rhinoceros discovery, I paused by a table heaping with all kinds of knickknacks. I opened one of the drawers, also crammed full. I rescued a notebook whose pages were covered in pasted press clippings. Leafing through, I stopped at a particular clipping which reproduced the following text:


Novgorod Codex is an 11th century book unearthed on July 13, 2000 in Novgorod, Russia. It consists of three wooden tablets containing four pages covered in wax. Upon which its owner wrote down dozens, perhaps hundreds, of texts over the course of several decades, each time wiping out the preceding text. When archeologists removed the layer of wax, the newly exposed wood was found to have been extensively scratched by the stylus cutting through the thin wax. What the monk who owned the book had believed to be temporary annotations had actually remained inscribed in the underlying support.  It took the research team several weeks to realize that some symbols could be discerned in the scratches.  Famed Russian linguist Andrey Zaliznyak has taken tremendous efforts to reconstruct the written texts but has only successfully disentangled a small portion of the Codex. The main difficulty with this task is the fact that the feeble traces of dozens of thousands of letters left by the stylus have been superimposed on each other, producing an impenetrable labyrinth of lines. Zaliznyak speaks of a “hyper-palimpsest”. Consequently, “reading” a single concealed text of one page can take weeks.

I marked the page and closed the notebook. I put it under my arm and continued my exploratory journey as my thoughts went flowing. It then occurred to me, to compare my father’s apartment with my own. Such thoughts made me smile. I hadn’t been able, after a long time, to make my apartment a habitable space, by perpetuating the empty and soulless state in which I found it. Because of opposite reasons, both of us had demonstrated a flagrant ineptitude to set up home, in spite of having the necessary conditions at our disposal. It was curious to find some parallels between the two of us, since the communication with my father had been non-existent, especially in recent years. I also thought of my failure in the intentions that I set for myself as a child, when I decided not to be like my father. Eventually, I had lived the photocopy of a life, like he once said of himself. Immersed in the chase of a desire that I believed to be mine, but was not more than the result of a mere imitation, I lost myself and I lost the few things I had. I was at the end of a process that dismantled me. My life was set at zero, tabula rasa, start over again. I felt as dead as my father, although in a different way, for I was still biologically alive. Paradoxically enough, at the time of death I was beginning to understand him. Or was that ghoulish hoarding of his, a reaction to the fear of the void so many times experienced in the cycle of desire? I paused again, to watch a number of masks that hung from the wall. They were lined-up to eye level. Next to the last one, on the right end, there was a hand-written text directly on the wall:


An old man passes away. He was beloved in his village and everyone who knew him attends the wake. At some point during the afternoon, a child realizes something strange. Looking closer, he notices that the face of the old man, the face that everybody knew so well while he was alive, is actually a mask. He tells the accompanying adults and after some initial doubts and thorough inspections, everybody agrees on the child’s discovery. There is general disbelief amongst the villagers and amazement at the fact that nobody had realized this after so many years; especially when the old man was so popular in life. The strange news spreads and more people join the group until eventually the whole village is present at the wake. A debate begins about what to do. Everybody feels curious about the old man’s real face, but no-one dare take the step to remove the mask. Eventually the child who made the discovery approaches the corpse. Tacitly, everyone agrees on the child removing the mask, whatever happens, it will be everyone’s responsibility. Scrutinizing the faces around him, the child extends his hand towards the old man. He takes the mask by the edge and, with a trembling hand, slowly takes it off. To the shock of everyone present, a new and alien face is revealed from beneath the mask; a face that no-one recognises. Everybody approaches the corpse to take a closer look and it is not long before somebody notices that, actually, the newly unveiled face is yet another mask.

The disconcertment between the villagers cannot be greater, but as one mask had been removed, it seemed to follow that so should the next. This time, somebody else from the village steps forward toward the old man. Reaching out to touch the edge of the mask the man holds back, nervous and unsure. After some moments of hesitation, and spurred on by a sense of collective responsibility, the man removes the mask.

Unsurprisingly, underneath it lies another mask. The ritual repeats again; each time a different villager removes a different mask unveiling a new face at every turn. At the seventh mask however, everyone stops. Somehow, everybody knows that this Russian doll of a procedure will not continue after the next disclosure; everyone knows that this is the last one. Initial doubts return amongst the villagers and questions begin to be heard; “Must it be removed?”  “What will happen if we do so?”  “But, on the other hand, we haven’t come this far to stop at this point. It must be done.” Once again, one of the villagers takes the step forward. Silence reigns, not a single breath is heard. The villager takes the mask and with resolve he pulls it off, only to discover that, under the seven masks, the old man had no face.

I grabbed a plastic bag and put the seven masks in it, to take them with me, as I had done with the image of the Rhinoceros and the clipping notebook. I got a bit disoriented inside the apartment, and I couldn’t know for certain where I was. I went on wandering aimlessly. I had once read about a mnemonic technique called “Memory Room”. Imagine a room, which in principle is empty, and then furnish it with objects that will be situated always in the same location. The crux of the matter lies in associating a certain meaning to each item. So that, in order to remember the information stored, it is only necessary to enter your personal Memory Room and take a systematic look around. Each object that is placed over there functions as a device that activates a particular link to such and such meaning, to such and such memory. If a Memory Room consists of a collection of imaginary mementos, I found it amusing to imagine what kind of Memory Room my old man’s apartment would be; where a careful configuration of elements was replaced by an inextricable overlapping of successive amalgamations. Layer after layer of debris abandoned by their previous owners, that house had become a sort of three-dimensional hyper-palimpsest. Every piece of junk in it represented the access key to some obscure meaning, only comprehensible to the inhabitant of that dwelling. Now he was gone and the key lost forever.

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