Thursday, March 14

The Library of Unborrowed Books

I'd like to make a quick visit to the Library of Unborrowed Books.  'Art in General' collaborated with The Center for Fiction in New York to present this eye-opening project by Stockholm-based artist, Meriç Algün Ringborg.  

The project consists of a selection of books that have never been borrowed from The Center for Fiction library, (a non-profit US organisation celebrating fiction), with an aim to stimulate reflection in the reading population and bring their attention to books that have been unjustly overlooked.  

Meriç Algün Ringborg describes the project:

“The Library of Unborrowed Books bases itself on the concept of the library as an institution manifesting language and knowledge, of the passing of awareness and the openness to all types of people and literature. This work, however, comprises books from a selected library that have never been borrowed. The framework in this instance hints at what has been disregarded, knowledge essentially unconsumed, and puts on display what has eluded us.
Why these books aren’t ‘chosen,’ why they are overlooked, will never be clear but whatever each book contains, en masse they become representative of the gaps and cracks of history, or the cataloging of the world and the ambivalent relationship between absence and presence. In this library their existence is validated simply by being borrowed, underlining their being as well as their content and form by putting them on display in an autonomous library dedicated to the books yet to have been revealed.”

I love this explanation.  He makes a wonderful observation by stating that the library's existence is validated by the simple act of being borrowed.  It is almost like a book's personal existentialism: "I am read, therefore I am".  

One would expect that the library would consist only of rare and obscure books that nobody's ever heard of.  But listen to some of these names: Blood and Gold by Anne Rice, Running Dog by Don DeLillo, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor, and Edith Wharton's short stories.  Well known titles and authors are revealed to have been swept aside over time.    This library shines a spotlight on them in the hope that we will learn to re-discover them and appreciate them anew as their stories and messages become relevant again.  

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