Monday, 28 January 2008

About an Ideal Library

The dream of an ideal library – a space that contains all information, inspiration and atmosphere you need for your own creation – must be a common one for many artists. Rather than offering just books the ideal library provides space for thoughts, comfort, visual and sensual attractions… like the ideal residency space it inspires you immediately to gather knowledge and concentrate on work, to reflect on what you have done so far and to contextualize your own creation within a broader framework. It turns your social and professional communication into hardware (books, visual material), your personal studio into a shared space (cabins for work, floor, tables) and your creation process into an architectonical metaphor. If you move through the ideal library and pass various sections your body is already performing the search for knowledge about itself, about its relationship to space and the others, to the world of arts and its common ground. From above e.g. from a gallery on the second floor you can see bodies moving through the ideal library which perform a delicate choreography of thought with intervals or stills: bent over a book, quiet in the sofa, in front of the window to the outside world that does not share the same rhythm. No need to say that the library’s order is not an alphabetic or thematic one but corresponding with your needs and movements. The library itself can move, change its order and appearance, share your thoughts, lead them further, give you the feeling that you are on the right way with what you are doing, that there are colleagues, writers, thinkers, performers who share your direction.
Your work, of course would have its own place in the library and being stored in a shelf with title and registration number on the cover it looks more consistent and continuous than you ever thought it to be. So far to the dream of an ideal library. Which – as many artists might know – does not (yet) exist. There are quite some attempts to set up archives, database, collections of books and visual material deriving from praxis and theory at accessible points both for artists and audience. These open archives might be small and rather hidden, yet they become more and more crucial for image and attraction of culture and art centres. “You should visit Tanzquartier! They have a marvellous library for dance in there!” Creation ex nihilo is a myth, the ideal library is meant as a counter image showing the artist in community and communication, and well aware of the (theoretical/historical) ground (s) he is moving on in search for new steps.

The first step leading towards the idea of an ideal library is to map the common ground it could be built onto. For contemporary performance arts that ground is multi-layered reaching the deeper levels of politics and philosophy while underlying the soft, slippery surface of “corporeality”. Neither a geological, biological nor and architectonical map would do to grasp the complex dimensions of work with living bodies. Though renaissance dreams of maps that cover every section of the world and human being within are tentative they would not be helpful for the investigation of a common ground for contemporary arts: after all, this ground will always be instable, shifting, relying a lot on self-perception and expression of individual artists and thinkers. Collages, notes, sketches for future maps must do meanwhile, covering the interspace between movement, body and thought as invisible border marks.

When Virginia Woolf’s alter ego was walking through London and Cambridge in search for Shakespeare’s sister and a Room of One’s Own her thoughts were taking the same way too, over passing (gender) obstacles, getting stuck, lost, crawling deeper into the damp insides/insights of body knowledge. By moving through her (re-imagined) every days world she was getting closer to a future dream manifested in a space open for both sexes and even a third one: a space of creation you can only enter by reflection and by risky jumps over the barriers of gendered society rules. It was by no way a fled towards “Innerlichkeit” , an inner utopia the writer was projecting herself into in literary dreams. It was her, who was not only her anymore, fighting for a common ground of arts one could mentally and physically enter after having left the gendered mantle at the entrance. There would be no section for “Women and Household” or “Women and Africa”. If V.W.s Room of One’s One would contain a library it would be for sure an ideal one with (body and other) knowledge open to be shared. The dream of an ideal library is dedicated to her room.

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