In the end of June 2011 my attention was called to a talk with the title "Unpacking a library" which was given by an art historian Magnus Schäfer from Berlin on the oocasion of an exhibition titled "Dealing with – some books, viusals, and works related to the American Fine Arts, Co." which took place in Lüneburg in the small "Halle für Kunst (Hall of Art) Lüneburg" accompanied by the Kunstraum of the Leuphana University in Lüneburg. The photo with the view on the library was taken from outside the "Halle der Kunst" when looking through the window from the Baumstraße, one of Lüneburg’s beautiful, old streets! The Baumstraße itself is an artwork containing the so-called "Steinmeile" (Mile of Stones).
Before I knew nothing about the New York gallery American Fine Arts, Co. which was founded and headed by Colin de Land (1955-2003)! But I was attracted by the Walter Benjamin quote in the title of the talk. Through the talk and the visit of the exhibition I learnt that the library of the gallery has been transferred to Germany and was shown during the exhibiton. During the talk and the discussion afterwards interesting statements and questions have been raised:
- Has the collection/library lost its subject when the galery was closed after the dead of the founder?
- The statement "The library is a document" brought to my mind Michael Buckland’s papers "What is a document?" and "What is a ‘digital document’?"
- When is a collection of books called a library?
- The American Fine Arts library has also been used a little bit like a public library when artists borrowed books for their work.
- The library now, can it be viewed itself as a work of art, as an artifact?
- Can the library now be viewed as self-contained actant in the sense of Bruno Latour? (See also a post about Latour in my German blog)
- The smallest book in the library has been a little books about dogs, "Das kleine Hundebuch" from the publisher Heyne, which was shown during the talk.
More on the gallery American Fine Arts, Co. see here: "American Fine Arts – If culture means anything" curated by James Fuentes, essay by Jackie McAllister.