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“The scent of night flowers” by Leïla Slimani: in dialogue with works of art – culture

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It’s a difficult question to answer: “Would you like to spend a night locked up in the museum?” French writer Leïla Slimani received this offer from her publisher as part of a series of projects called “My Night at the Museum”, but was reluctant.

Would you really like that? The fact that Slimani finally got involved was not so much because of her excitement of being alone with a lot of art for one night as because of her attractive idea: “Let no one reach me and the outside be unattainable for me.”

So in April 2019, he headed to Venice for a night at Punta della Dogana, a former customs building converted into a contemporary art museum next to Santa Maria del Salute. “The perfume of flowers at night” is the result, a very personal autobiographical book.

During her night at the museum, Slimani reflects on how she started writing, what writing means to her.

“For a long time I have felt stripped of any identity”

Just as Venice appears to him as a place between East and West, and just as the museum building at the tip of Dorsoduro is located between the Grand Canal and the Guidecca Canal between two worlds, Slimani, born in Rabat in 1981, She describes herself as “torn between the communities”, the Moroccan and the French, to which she was drawn when she was 18 or 19 years old. “Never quite from here, not quite there anymore, I felt stripped of any identity for a long time.”

Slimani converses with herself and with works of art by Etel Adnan, Félix González-Torres or Hicham Berrada, where her resonant space is literature, she remembers her adolescence, her nights in Rabat, and erects a small monument to her father.

His death made her the writer she is today. Slimani speaks of “compensation” because her father was unjustly imprisoned (and died after his release), but also of having found happiness, especially as a writer, in this solitary activity.

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