Friday, January 05, 2007

If I lived in an alley, this would be so up it.

Shelf Portrait is an exhibition that renders an act of generosity into a work of art. Robin Pacific’s entire archive of 1,670 books, collected over 30 years, will be given away– free – to all who attend the Shelf Portrait exhibition at the Red Head Gallery from Saturday January 6 through Saturday January 27, 2007. Books read 30 years ago, books read last week, books read and re-read, books never read – Art, Fiction, Poetry, Cultural Theory, Memoirs, Biographies, Autobiographies, Essays, Letters, Philosophy, Psychology, Travel, Gardening. Each book has been catalogued and inserted with a bookplate: "This book is a gift to you from Robin Pacific." In exchange for signing their name beside the title of the books on catalogues hung on the wall, visitors can take the books home with them immediately.

You can find out more about the event here.


August said...

I managed to squeeze in towards the end of the day. Very few books were left. Robin Pacific was a lovely polite woman, although the 'rules of the game', as it were, were not always clear (you needed tickets to get in, for example, and there was a four-book limit).

Julie Wilson said...

I have to admit, the organization left me a bit dazed. So much so that my friend and I left without trying to get in. Unfortunate, really. We were there early and within five minutes were being told that it would take two hours to get in. I decided to support the project in spirit. (Between you, me and the walls though? You always put the audience first. Throngs of people came with their hearts, not their bags, open, and felt turned away by the lack of, shall we say, "formula"?)

That all said, glad you got in! I find the whole thing inspiring.

ms peacock said...

i thought this idea was marvellous, and i'm glad i didn't go because i would have been frustrated by the execution of it all.

it's too bad they didn't have her library set up for a few weeks beforehand, so that people could peruse the collection as a whole. i doubt that most people got a sense of it as so many volumes would have already been missing by the time they arrived (or were admitted).

i so love looking through people's collections of books and would have preferred that to being part of the disassembly of it.

Julie Wilson said...

Disassembly, there's the word! My friend and I were calling it the subtraction. I think you've hit on something there. All told, I'm saddened to think that the lasting impression will be of people grabbing free books when it should have been an entry point for discussion. I mean, my god, can you imagine the energy of people engaging in that kind of environment? It would've been too cool!