i.7. A library is an exhibit...

Personal inscriptions, notes jotted in margins and makeshift bookmarks—all are evidence of readers that came before us. Yet each underline, asterisk, and folded page corner is only a fragment of a thought, one part of a larger conversation in which the book itself acts as a prompt, a participant, and a record.

Exhibit Curation & Design (Postponed)
A library is an exhibit...

            A library is an exhibit... is an artwork in the form of an exhibit—a collection of marginalia, handwritten inscriptions, indexes of previous ownership and objects found in library books. Through collection and display, it explores the activities curating, borrowing, sharing and meaning-making under the banners of exhibition and graphic design.
            This project includes a collection of 200 books borrowed from various libraries across the city (including OCAD’s Dorothy Hoover Library, the Ryerson and University of Toronto libraries, and various branches of the Toronto Public Library), as well as a display table containing artifacts and ephemera found in books. This exhibit also proposes the inclusion of a performative element—a “librarian” on-premises to provide insight on the objects on display. And unlike the typical gallery show, A library is an exhibit... proposes an environment that will encourage visitors to touch the books in its collection as they would when browsing the shelves of their local library. 

            A library is an exhibit... is a collaboration with fellow student, Deborah Khodanovich, whose research is primarily interested in the problem of exhibiting ghost discliplines (see more about her work at A medium platform). As Deborah’s work is interested in exhibiting graphic design and mine is focused on exploring ways of publishing it, this collaboration was an opportunity for both of us to examine new ways of thinking about what graphic design is and how it can be exhibited, practiced and performed.
            The name of this project, A library is an exhibit..., suggests a sort of circularity in the acts of reading, borrowing, collecting, curating and exhibiting. This is expressed through the exhibit’s visual identity system which features diagonal lines that connect the two parts of the sentence “a library is” with “an exhibit is” in an endless loop. These lines create a slanted frame that brings attention to the white space at its center, a graphic language that connects to the project conceptually—the act of curating itself is a sort of frame that serves to elevate a collection of otherwise mundane objects to the status of being worthy for display.

            This identity system was applied to custom markers designed to indicate passages in books where markings of interest can be found. Because they contain mostly white space, these bookmarks double as notepaper for visitors who might want to take a call number down so they can retrieve one of the volumes at a later date. The exhibit poster, which serves to announce the show, also makes use of this identity system with an added element of nostalgia—the library date stamp. The manual application of the date is a nod to the physicality of books, and ensures that every poster unique.

            The diagonality of the exhibit’s graphic system is also integrated into the physical design of the exhibit space itself. Rather than place the bookshelves square with the walls of the room, the floor plan was designed on a diagonal, creating a more dynamic layout consistent with the project’s graphic identity.

            Although all elements of this project have been finalized (including the collection of 200 library books and dozens of found artifacts), this exhibit was cancelled one week before it was due to take place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because this situation is ongoing, we have yet to find an alternate date or location for the event. However, Deborah and I do have plans to show A library is an exhibit... sometime in the next year, and are currently looking into funding and gallery spaces for the project.

—Poster format: 11” x 17”
—Bookmark format: 2.25” x 8.25”
—Printing: standard laser monochrome