It has been over a month since Live Bibliographies took place at the Stuart Hall Library and we are still feeling the affects of this unique event. Immediately after the event the library started to receive phone calls, emails, and visits from regular library users and those who up until recently were completely unfamilar with the Stuart Hall Library; all wanting to discuss, view, hear, and interrogate the Live Bibliographies performance.
For those unable to attend we are currently working on uploading the video footage of this event. In the interim we have an audio recording of the poems performed by Joyful Noise available from the Iniva website .
A booklet was also produced combining introductions detailing the research project, full text of all 8 pieces, as well as an accomanying bibliography. This booklet is now available in the library collection. A PDF is also available to download.
Below is a series of photographs documenting the performance.
Artist Trevor Mathison and technical support Barbara Lambert working in the library stacks. Trevor combines Charlie's images with his own and film pieces and audio live during the performance.
In addition to the performance space, a number of library materials selected by Charlie were displayed near the library entrance. A film of dictionary definitions selected by Charlie was created by Trevor Mathison and played on a loop adjacent to the display of library materials. The dictionary definitions related directly to specific texts such as Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain's Living Heritage (ACE, 2000)and provided a playful commentary on the lexicon of cultural diversity and policy.
An example of an image found in the Stuart Hall Library, selected by Charlie, edited by Trevor, and used to underpin a live performed piece. This specific image is Diane Fonesca's Pastime,2004 taken from the exhibition catalogue States of Exchange : Artists from Cuba Iniva, 2008.
Librarian Holly Callaghan introducing Joyful Noise and explaining the scope of the research project.
Joyful Noise performing against a backdrop of images taken from the Iniva archive.
Joyful Noise mid-performance against a backdrop of several images taken from the exhibition catalogue Ghada Amer: Reading Between the Threads (2001).
Q+A with Trevor Mathison, Joyful Noise, and Holly Callaghan.
A member of the audience asks a question.
The performance continues to receive a strong response and very detailed feedback from new and existing library users. I have attempted to address the main points of feedback below so that everyone can benefit from the points raised.
Why have you chosen to stage this in a library? Do you feel that this might alienate your intended audience?
Many people were curious as to why a piece of performance poetry and accompanying audio visuals were staged in a library setting. As a librarian this connection between research and performance has never felt strange or alien. It is now almost commonplace for libraries across a wide variety of sectors to stage performances of music,theatre, live art, performance, poetry, film etc in a library setting to promote their collections and invite audiences to question the notion of a 'library' and the role of research as an interactive process.
This was not a simple case of organising a live poetry event, which could have been staged in a more traditional performance setting rather than a library. This was a research project with the very specific aim of bringing the Stuart Hall Library and Archives to life, exploring non-traditional art histories, and bringing the library collection to the general public. In doing this we succeeded, the majority of attendees on the day were not regular library users with many having never visited the library before.
Will the library be doing more of these events? Can we expect a similar performance in support of the next Iniva exhibition?
The library would very much like to continue to bring the library collections to life in new ways such as live performances and debates. Live Bibliographies was a very specific research prject examining cultural diversity in the arts in support of the Progress Report exhibition. We are definitely interested in doing something similar in the future to support the work of Iniva and will be looking at future performances in the library.
Why wasn't this an evening event?
Live Bibliographies was originally planned as an evening event as part of Iniva's late Thursday openings, however due to scheduling issues this was not possible. Progress Reports had a very full and exciting calendar of public programming which we were very fortunate to be a part of. We appreciate that being scheduled during the day on a Saturday has implications on those able to attend the event. The scheduling of the event also affects the way in which it is viewed/enjoyed/discussed. For future performance events we are hoping to schedule the performances as an evening event.
We received a lot of amazing feedback from the day itself which is providing the library with extra encouragement to start planning the next event...
"...very inspiring, well organised, and great idea to place it in a library..."
"...a very good use of such a wonderful resource and expanding what the whole nature of the archive/library is all about..."
"...It was great to see the library brought to life in this way. I really hope there will be more library events like this..."
"...I'm impressed the way the library has been transformed through the artist's work and experiencees. The way it comes back to you and interacts with private memories and thoughts is inspiring..."
"...A tremendous resource that deserves to embrace many diverse events and continue to be innovative..."
"...Wonderful performance - evocative visuals and words that dug beneath subjects that have been turned into cliches or trivilaised by media and politics. It would be good to use these performances to trigger debates around the topics raised..."
"...I believe this to be a direction to pursue further, engaging artists with libraries and archives..."
Thank you to everyone that attended and engaged with the performance and the project. Thank you to Chalie Weinberg and Trevor Mathison for creating a piece of work that allowed this collection to come to life. Thank you to Obinna Nwosu for producing this project and supervising the collaborations.
The library is currently working on our next project, an evening event to promote the launch of the engage journal. Live Bibliographies has provided a much needed revitalisation and is inspiring the library in all aspects of our work. Thanks to the event we have seen an increase in visitors to the library, an increase in enquiries, an increase in the use of the bibliographies produced by the library, and an active engagement with the library and archive from those who up until recently were not familar with the Stuart Hall Library. So, what's next?...