While weeding my personal library to move to a smaller apartment, I resisted the idea of selling my books or packing them away to be stored indefinitely. I decided instead to give them away, and to perform this act as a work of art. That is how Lost Library (#lostlibrary) was born, a ‘social media endurance performance’ in Soho, NYC, during the summer heatwave of 2011.
From June 19th to July 6th, I repeatedly put as many books as I could fit into two cotton tote bags and carried them from my third floor loft down to the street. I wandered in the heat, a bag on each shoulder, stopping to deposit books (in themed batches) in window wells or stoops. Each time I unloaded my books, I photographed them with my smartphone and tweeted the shot along with location coordinates. I tagged the images #LostLibrary and they posted simultaneously to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Some followers, as well as passersby, came to browse my books. Sometimes they tweeted a “thank you” photograph to show the world what books they chose. Some of them wrote blog posts about the experience and posted photographs of their finds.
Lost Library was a project that instantaneously shared, documented, and enacted the age-old act of sharing books while pointing to our contemporary quandary over sharing in a world where, increasingly, licensing supplants ownership, and digital files replace analogue objects. Lost Library comprises both the advantages and drawbacks of immateriality, and asks us to consider what is lost as we forgo the heft of so much printed matter.
- see blog
- See a selection of Lost Library images here:
- View the full set of Lost Library images here.
- Four archival inkjet prints were made for BIBLIOMANIA, an exhibition curated by Mary Birmingham at the Visual Arts Center of NJ, Oct 7 – Dec 11, 2011. EXHIBITION IMAGES – press release / info