The Library Vaccine @ Artists Space, 9/25 – 11/9

By | September 15, 2014


The Library Vaccine presents a number of discrete collections of books in order to sample art’s distinctive relationship to the book form in its singularity, and in its states of reproduction, distribution and accumulation. The exhibition addresses the book as a particular technology, and in its collective state of the private collection, reading room or library, as a social machine – registering social and personal histories, and articulating structures of knowledge and value through the relations between its parts. 

The exhibition title is taken from a text by the curator and writer Edit deAk that introduced the 1981 Printed Matter catalogue. In this short piece she referred to artists’ books as “the library vaccine, a healing agent formed from the very disease they cure.” Each section of the exhibition presents a collection that loosely corresponds to a decade between the 1960s and the present day, yet The Library Vaccine doesn’t seek to survey a recent history of books in or as art; rather it takes the tension between book-as-text and book-as-object as a starting point. The exhibition marks a movement from the egalitarian, curative aspirations of the book as distributed artwork, to these aspirations’ subsumption within broader tendencies towards collecting, archiving and the re-circulation of knowledge. 

Some sections of the exhibition revolve around curatorial or editorial frameworks that highlight artists’ use of the book form, while others focus on the collection or library as a holistic entity. In these contexts the act of collation emphasizes shifts between the private and the common, the artwork and the artifact. The roles of artist, publisher and collector are seen to overlap, and the sequenced content of both the individual book and the massed collection provides sites for the production and articulation of meaning. 

The Library Vaccine is presented across Artists Space Exhibitions and Artists Space Books & Talks, and will feature a number of talks and programs that both reflect on and activate the books and collections exhibited.