Wednesday 17 December 2014

The Library as a Site for Encounter

“But fishing, as we know, in libraries or anywhere else, is a tricky business, with never a certainty of who's going to catch whom.”J.D. Salinger

For the past few years I've been making art for libraries. The first artwork I made was called the Exchange Student for the Ecole superieur de beaux arts de Grenoble (which was later exhibited as The Weimar Years) and the last was In The Reflected Sky with Egidija and George and part of Art Language Location. Each project has made me question why I use libraries as sites for artwork.

In This Journey is a Book, ten books positioned throughout Peckham library took visitors on a trip across the breadth of the collection. The main appeal of the library was the site itself, this place that is segregated into so many other little spaces, with sections aimed at quite different types of people and zones for different types of activity. Part of my intention was for visitors to use the space in a different way.

The video 'In Explanation of the Book' was shown on the monitor in the library of Camberwell College - a screen that was usually used for library notices. The video was a kind of intervention that used this formal library paraphernalia to exhibit something intimate and personal. The video which showed people's hands interacting with books, would hopefully prompt visitor's to take note of the sensory experience involved when handling books.

In 'The Hesitant Visitor' pamphlets were created for three different subject libraries within Senate House library. Each told a fictional story that linked the content of each library to other subject libraries within the same building. Each library has a wealth of information there for readers to explore, but often we tend to stick to what we know. This artwork was made in an attempt to draw connections for readers. In this instance specific texts were important to the art.

These are just three ways that the library as a site has informed the art I have made. With two new library-related projects in the pipeline, I hope this experience will become richer.


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