Library Science at Artspace

Last Days to Check Out Artspace‘s Library Science

Artspace’s outstanding postmodern hyper-literary multi-media Library Science exhibit is rapidly approaching its due date. Jan. 28 is when the non-profit arts institution at the corner of Temple and Crown streets closes the books on its state-wide, multi-venue project.

Artspace has celebrated the literary arts before. One of their public art projects in “The Lot” behind the bus stop at the corner of Temple and Chapel streets a few years ago included a small lending library. The gallery has frequently exhibited artworks where text, illustration or even bookbinding is an important element.

Library Science is special, however. It expands not just on the themes of books and printing, but on the aura of the places where they are kept. Blane De St. Croix’s removes one of those long sideways-sliding library ladders from its usual bookshelf-abutting context, creating a dynamic shadowy triangle and an image of ascending for enlightenment.

Some of the Artspace artists dwell on a small shelf of books, others create walls or floors from the volumes. We’re reminded of

Library Science at Artspace
50 Orange Street (map)
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 772-2709 | contact online
Wed-Thurs 12-6pm, Fri-Sat 12-8pm
Gallery admission is free. Donations accepted.

what an essential household prop a book once was, but we’re overcome by the newfangled artistic grasp of words as information that floats digitally through the air.

This is not a pagebound exhibit. It soars. And, like the library books it honors, the Library Science show has been loaned out, landing in other locations all over town.

Library Science encompasses an art display (with a variety of themes on books and how we relate to them) at Artspace itself, plus installations in several actual libraries, plus screenings of films featuring librarians as central characters, from Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451 to Noah Wylie in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear.

The satellite exhibits, also set to close Saturday, can be found at the New Haven

Photos by Mia O.

Free Public Library, the Whitney Library at New Haven Museum and Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library.

The NHFPL exhibit is an interactive experiment by artist Heather Lawless which asks patrons to investigate the library space using podcasts, text-messaging and other modern communication techniques which challenge both the library’s image as an imposing old world institution and a bastion of—“Sssssshhhhh!”—quiet isolation. In a series of video interviews with Library Science which replays constantly on an Artspace wall, Lawless (who hails from a family of librarians) speaks of “how the authority of libraries tells you something must be true.”

Library Science transcends such truth, bringing all elements of a book and its environs into play. Perhaps you can’t believe everything you read on the walls of Artspace, but you can invigorate your imagination. “Words can not express,” as they say. This is a show that judges books by their covers, and finds lively artistic patterns and ironic commentary in the dead format of card-catalogue book inventories. Erica Baum, Chris Coffin, David Bunn and Sterling Library “Augmented/Obstructed” installationists Andy Deck and Carol Padberg are among the many artists drawn to card catalogues for their rich patterns, for their handiness as miniature canvases and doodle pads, for their jarring textual juxtapositions. (One of Baum’s close-up photos of a card file shows a grouping for “Subversive Activities” lurking just behind the label for “Suburban Homes.”)

When you’re done seeing all of Library Science, your first response might be to sit back, relax from all that gallery-hopping, and read a book. You’ll likely find yourself stopping to examine that book a little more closely—wondering what magical process of indexing and fantasizing got it into your hands.

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