Two projects by VerySmallKitchen have been selected to be part of THE READING ROOM in Berlin, curated by Dominique Hurth and Ciarán Walsh. Both Writing Exhibitions and Essaying Essays will feature in what Hurth and Walsh term “a curated archive of artist’s printed projects.”
My proposal for THE READING ROOM explored how the form of both publications occupied an overlapping space between print and online, magazine, exhibition and essay. The format for each publication – each contributer has 3 pages of A4 – was rooted in a hard copy concept of publication, but for convenience and economy the publication has been distributed almost entirely as an online PDF. THE READING ROOM is thus a chance to re-imagine both the individual contributions and the whole publication as a printed object.
Because of the relaxed yet specialised reading experience THE READING ROOM hopes to cultivate (see below) I have been thinking of both publications as unbound folios, that enable both authors and readers to approach the materiality of each contribution. The writers and artists involved have all been asked to re-imagine their contributions for this possible new format.
The curators describe their project as follows:
The Reading Room is a project based in Berlin with the aim to maintain, archive and represent products of contemporary art practices evolving within printed and published formats. Through archival methodology, critical reflection and strategic methods of presentation, The Reading Room will focus on these representations of contemporary practice that both utilise and interrogate the published form as their primary medium.
In addition to the traditionally understood artist’s books, monographs or exhibition catalogues, the published format is now widely utilised as a primary site for various art practices. Often secondary when compared to the established presentation space of the gallery, the act of publishing has diversified and widened into self-contained body of artistic method and research. The Reading Room will focus on the publication as medium and context for artistic practice, in which the artists choose deliberately and critically the publication as support, while using its materiality, edges and frame as tools for both visual and semantic expressions.
The Reading Room will only consider books, printed material, publications or magazines that are actively interrogating or reconsidering the textuality, materiality and context of their chosen medium: works by artists who use the concept of publication or book as a primary and independent mean of artistic production without serving purely the representation of earlier artworks or illustrating physical artworks.
The Reading Room is based on former institutional “Reading Rooms” (such as the one of the British Museum in London), and functions as such: it will be open for public viewing, with those wanting to use it being required to make an appointment and also register beforehand their particular interested in the publications or project. The Reading Room takes its initial presentation location from the idea of the “Salon”, gathering its printed matters under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host. The visitors and readers of the Reading Room will ring the bell of a private apartment, climb up the stairs to it, and then be able to sit in a study room. Refreshments will be served.
The organisers of The Reading Room will maintain a curated monthly selection of approximately 25 publications that can be seen at one time. Those will be chosen based on changing criteria, such as topics, size, colour, content, and links to each other. A monthly index will be published online. By special agreement, the remaining publications of the archive can of course be read and viewed, next to the monthly selection.