Library 8.6.-8.7.2011, 16.2.-27.5.2012, 26.10.2015-03.01.2016, 12.11.2015-18.3.2016 ...ongoing
site specific installation
In the Collection of Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava and Zachęta Collection Wroclaw Poland
photo: Michal Huštaty, Vlado Eliáš, Tomáš Umrian
I’m more interested in the books’ names, spines, and covers than the books themselves. They are the complement, the outside, the surface, the parergon. They exist outside the book yet they also form part of the book. Covers save books. During the Second World War, for instance, banned Polish books would be covered with dust jackets taken from German detective stories in order to give them a chance at survival. This technique (also using German crime novels) was also used to smuggle books across the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. Covers can also exist without books as empty shells. And so can books without covers. Are my libraries libraries of books, or libraries of abandoned covers? Perhaps the pronounced instance of my “library” works is the interactive library. It involves the spectator in its contents directly, it counts on them; the spectator conditions both its existence and its content. In the last few years, this library has come to include hundreds of thousands of existent and non-existent titles, often pertaining to books that are yet to be written. The spectator could pass through several levels, their gaze slipping from title to title, looking over a library left behind by the other visitors. They could add further content, thus subtly modifying the preceding relationship between the books by creating a new association. But they could also rewrite and delete the book titles others had written. People should understand the work as a kind of spiral of knowledge which they can set into vibration through a gentle touch. As an open form they can model further. To an extent, the time and place in which the library is created determines its legacy. The decisive factors are language and the geopolitical and institutional context in which the work is exhibited (gallery, museum, library, street). Libraries reflects thoughts, desires, and anxieties. It is an ephemeral world of signs; a poetic shorthand for reality; an image within an image. It is an unfinished sketch of the world and an uncategorised registry of knowledge. It appears for a moment and disappears forever. It doesn’t really want to be a library.