Sasaki proposes an experiment that aims to enact the utopian moment live, stretching it to an extended period of time and relinquishing any control over the participants’ reactions. To this purpose, he gathers a cast of children from diverse cultural backgrounds, asks them to form a circle to emulate the well-known images, and records them over the course of an hour as they attempt to hold the pose. Impatience, fatigue, boredom, and ultimately playful energy gradually take over the group, dictating the real dynamics and actions of the young participants. The circle of harmony rapidly disintegrates as spontaneous friendships are formed and individualities asserted. What begins as a contrived, “smile for the camera” exercise slowly develops into a chaotic but true “magic moment” where children break the rules and make up their own game.
Libraries are the place where all rules can be learned, but also where we realize how they can be undone and the name of the game completely changed. As portals to new worlds, school libraries are often where some of our first journeys of self-awareness begin. The artists in this exhibition engage the library as a place of exploration and social interaction, revisiting cultural icons, revelling in the mysteries of books, examining the communication of knowledge, and questioning idealized notions of education. Like expert librarians themselves, they open perspectives, answer our queries with new ones, and lead the way to more discoveries.
Epigraph: Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby (New York: Viking, 2013), 63.
1 Located at 180 Shaw Street, the building went through several transformations and name changes during its life span as an active school from 1856 to 2000. After being decommissioned, its remaining students were consolidated into the Givins-Shaw Junior Public School built in 1957 and currently still active at 94 Givins Street, next to the old Shaw Street building.
2 The selection of books in the installation comprised: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (ed. by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler), The Giver by Lois Lowry, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Story of Captain Cook by L. Du Garde Peach, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
We’re in the Library artist websites
Sara Angelucci: sara-angelucci.ca
Barbara Astman: barbaraastman.com
Adam David Brown: adamdavidbrown.com
Michelle Gay: michellegay.com
Ido Govrin: idogovrin.net
Vid Ingelevics: web.net/artinfact
Jon Sasaki: jonsasaki.com
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Shannon Anderson
Digital publication to the exhibition We’re in the Library
Presented by the Koffler Gallery | November 13, 2013 to January 19, 2014 | Curator: Mona Filip
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2013, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-928175-00-1.