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At MASS MoCA, a Celebration of Libraries
From the Wall Street Journal of Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:48:37 EST
‘Bibliothecaphilia,’ a new exhibit opening next month at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, features works by six artists on the book and library experience. Clayton Cubitt’s ‘Hysterical Literature’ video series, which went viral in 2012, follows a woman as she reads from a book of her choice while using a vibrator. Pictured, a still from ‘Session One: Stoya’ (2012).
‘Bibliothecaphilia,’ a new exhibit opening next month at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, features works by six artists on the book and library experience. Clayton Cubitt’s ‘Hysterical Literature’ video series, which went viral in 2012, follows a woman as she reads from a book of her choice while using a vibrator. Pictured, a still from ‘Session One: Stoya’ (2012). Clayton Cubitt
Mr. Cubitt, who will include a new session in the Mass MoCA exhibit, has said in interviews that the series explores viewers’ reactions to what they see in the video and what they imagine happening out of sight. Pictured, a still from ‘Session Three: Danielle’ (2012).
Mr. Cubitt, who will include a new session in the Mass MoCA exhibit, has said in interviews that the series explores viewers’ reactions to what they see in the video and what they imagine happening out of sight. Pictured, a still from ‘Session Three: Danielle’ (2012). Clayton Cubitt
Jonathan Gitelson, a Vermont-based artist, has collected 2,000 marked-up books for his ‘Marginalia’ installation. From gardening and recipe books to fiction and memoirs, he highlights the passages as a way to identify the way in which readers mark their presence. Pictured, a detail from the 2015 installation.
Jonathan Gitelson, a Vermont-based artist, has collected 2,000 marked-up books for his ‘Marginalia’ installation. From gardening and recipe books to fiction and memoirs, he highlights the passages as a way to identify the way in which readers mark their presence. Pictured, a detail from the 2015 installation. Jonathan Gitelson
In some of Mr. Gitelson’s books, entire pages have been underlined. In others, the reader drew elaborate watercolors. Pictured, a page in a spiritual book by Bernadette Roberts, in which the owner wrote, ‘This opening paragraph slays me, it’s so good.’
In some of Mr. Gitelson’s books, entire pages have been underlined. In others, the reader drew elaborate watercolors. Pictured, a page in a spiritual book by Bernadette Roberts, in which the owner wrote, ‘This opening paragraph slays me, it’s so good.’ Jonathan Gitelson
Susan Hefuna creates mashrabiyas, wooden screens that were used in the Middle East to allow women to observe the streets without being seen. The works echo the semi-private aspects of libraries, said Allie Foradas, a graduate student in art history at Williams College who curated the exhibit. Pictured, ‘Women Cairo’ (2010).
Susan Hefuna creates mashrabiyas, wooden screens that were used in the Middle East to allow women to observe the streets without being seen. The works echo the semi-private aspects of libraries, said Allie Foradas, a graduate student in art history at Williams College who curated the exhibit. Pictured, ‘Women Cairo’ (2010). Achim Kukulies
In ‘The Secret Lives of Books,’ Jena Priebe seeks to make the feeling of books coming alive tangible. Her installation is set in a room, in which thousands of pages will spill out from a single book on an ottoman and swirl toward the ceiling. Pictured, ‘Diagnosis’ (2012).
In ‘The Secret Lives of Books,’ Jena Priebe seeks to make the feeling of books coming alive tangible. Her installation is set in a room, in which thousands of pages will spill out from a single book on an ottoman and swirl toward the ceiling. Pictured, ‘Diagnosis’ (2012). George Leon
Ms. Priebe has created similar installations in Los Angeles and for the 2013 Burning Man festival (‘The Church Trap,’ pictured), which featured sheet music.
Ms. Priebe has created similar installations in Los Angeles and for the 2013 Burning Man festival (‘The Church Trap,’ pictured), which featured sheet music. George Leon
Some of Ms. Hitchcock’s transformations are unexpected. In a 2014 work, pictured, letters cut from a German Bible are pasted to reconstruct Walt Whitman’s ‘Chanting the Square Deific.’
Some of Ms. Hitchcock’s transformations are unexpected. In a 2014 work, pictured, letters cut from a German Bible are pasted to reconstruct Walt Whitman’s ‘Chanting the Square Deific.’ no credit available
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For Allie Foradas, libraries occupy both a physical and mental space. “You remember bits and pieces of books you’ve read, the same way a library catalog can,” she said.

In curating a new exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Ms. Foradas, an art graduate student at nearby Williams College, is featuring six artists whose work comments on the role of libraries and books in people’s lives. The works range from Jonathan Gitelson ’s installation of marked-up books to Meg Hitchcock ’s words cut out from printed scripture and reassembled into other works—say, Walt Whitman ’s poem “Chanting the Square Deific.”

“Bibliothecaphilia,” the name of the show that opens Jan. 24 at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., comes from Greek words meaning “a fondness for libraries.” Mr. Gitelson’s work, “Marginalia,” looks at ways some owners showed their fondness for books: “This opening paragraph slays me, it’s so good,” one reader wrote in a spiritual book. In an advice book on co-dependency, someone crossed out a personality type and put in the name of an ex. “The way we mark our presence is in these objects,” Mr. Gitelson said.

Susan Hefuna, whose heritage is partly Egyptian, comments more indirectly on libraries in her contribution to the show. Her mashrabiyas, carved wooden screens of Middle Eastern origin, let women inside look outside without being seen—much as libraries let one pursue information “without having to ask someone about it and be exposed,” Ms. Foradas said.

Another artist in the show, Jena Priebe, said she wanted to “capture that moment when you’re reading a book and you’re completely enchanted.” During the exhibition, she will create her installation “The Secret Lives of Books,” in which thousands of pages spill out of a single book lying on an ottoman and undulate across the room. She added, “You put [a book] down and walk out of the room, and the book comes alive.”



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