Vision Forum in Beirut with 98weeks and Assabil Libraries

the VOLUME project, September 11–20, 2014, Beirut.

Have libraries become obsolete in the digital age? Can we conceive public libraries as something other than a collection of books? When does a library begin and end?

Started as a long-term research project in November 2013, the VOLUME project investigates the potential of libraries as sites for artistic creation and production of knowledge, as well as for the formation of critique and dialogue. For nine days, international and local artists, theorists, curators and librarians will engage the public library as a space and a concept, through a series of performances, ad-hoc interventions, talks, literary writings and installations. Events will take place at 98weeks Project Space, Assabil Libraries, and in public spaces around Beirut.

The multiplicity of interventions composing the VOLUME project mirrors the complexities that the library embodies, both as a physical and theoretical subject. Newly commissioned artworks and a program of talks will be reflecting the many facets of the library as a public space, political agent, vehicle for memory, conceptual entity, cataloguing system, fantasy and knowledge generator. What is a library after all? Something so vivid and yet so elusive. Something physical and yet conceptual. Container and content. A singular encompassing multitude. Potentially infinite and intrinsically unfinished.

The library symbolizes the human ambition to amass and preserve all the knowledge of the world, the utopia of a totality at hand. In its physical manifestation, it displays the modern rationality trying to tame the episteme under categories, inventories or parameters of acceptance. It raises questions related to the accessibility to knowledge and how libraries’ collections reflect political choices. The library feeds the desire to know, but also the desire to forget.

VOLUME’s upcoming session in September will present an occasion to share and discuss with the public these and further issues, in what we hope will be an intensive and thought-provoking series of events and encounters. A live publishing platform called “Vologue” will accompany the project. Two writers/witnesses, Roger Outa and Lina Mounzer, will react to talks, events, and performances. Their accounts will appear daily in printed form and on VOLUME’s website.

All the interventions and their ramifications will eventually coalesce into a single publication — the VOLUME — which will be donated to Beirut’s public libraries. VOLUME is therefore the artists’ measuring device and connector. It is part and whole. It is inside the library. It is the library. It is what is what the library is missing.

For program click here.

Ad hoc interventions and performances by Mounira Al Solh (LB/NL), Andrew Beccone (US), Pauline Curnier Jardin (FR), Aldis Ellersdóttir Hóff (SE), Per Hüttner (SE/FR), RYBN.ORG (FR), Walid Sadek (LB).

Talk Series with Stefanie Baumann, Antoine Boulad (Assabil Association), Jessica Khazrik & Monica Basbous (Ashkal Alwan Library), Marcell Mars, Maud Stephan (Lebanese National Library)
the VOLUME project is a collaboration between Vision Forum, Assabil Association and 98weeks Research Project and is curated by Sara Giannini together with 98weeks.

The project is Supported by The Swedish Institute and Prince Claud Fund.