In “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges imagined the universe as an infinite library containing all possible books. Any real library, of course, contains only a fraction of all the texts ever written, and is thus always incomplete: a provisional picture of human knowledge assembled over time by individual librarians. Likewise, an art collection presents a partial and subjective version of art history, shaped by personal interests and coincidences of encounter. Taking up and interweaving the threads of these unfinished and unfinishable narratives, AND NOT OR brings new perspectives and layers of interpretation to existing collections of art and printed matter, and highlights the productive frictions that arise from contextual shifts.
Like the Boolean operators referenced in the title, which are used to connect terms and expand the scope of a search, the exhibition links and transposes two different spaces on the Seattle University campus: Hedreen Gallery and Lemieux Library, where much of the university’s art collection resides alongside thousands of books. Six Seattle-based artists—Ryan Feddersen, Wynne Greenwood, Margie Livingston, Shaw Osha, Rob Rhee, and Joe Rudko—were invited to select artworks in Lemieux Library to be removed to Hedreen Gallery, and to replace them with works of their own making. Some of the artists’ works address themes found within their chosen collection object, or its site within the library, while others superimpose other concerns. With these new insertions, the library becomes, for some, an unusual site of pilgrimage for aesthetic contemplation, while remaining for routine users a place of unexpected discovery—perhaps now amplified by subtle changes in the familiar scenery.
Re-housed in the Hedreen Gallery, the selected paintings and prints from the SU collection—by Jo Baer, Paul Horiuchi, Alfred Jensen, Hasui Kawase, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, and Matteo Ricci—will continue to share space with books, but with books chosen for them by Portland-based artist Abra Ancliffe as an outgrowth of her Personal Libraries project. Ancliffe has previously recreated and reconsidered the personal libraries of artists, authors, and thinkers like Robert Smithson, Italo Calvino, and Maria Mitchell. For this iteration, she will convene parts of the libraries, actual or imagined, of Alfred Jensen, Paul Horiuchi, and Henri Matisse, which shed new light on their art practices.
The gallery will come alive as a center for discourse through a series of talks, screenings, and workshops featuring the six artists invited to create work for the library and other guests. It will also be a hub of research and idea sharing, as artists, poets, and educators participate in a series of short Xerox residencies organized by Seattle artist Coley Mixan. Using materials found in the gallery, brought in, or borrowed from Lemieux Library, residents will create photocopied forms (booklets, collages, bound or unbound compilations) of their choosing, passing “notes” one to the next and collaborating over time. The Personal Libraries and Xerox works will be donated to the Lemieux Library at the close of the exhibition.
AND NOT OR is organized by Clare Corrigan, Cheyenne Cunning, Amanda Donnan, Paul Fitzpatrick, and Kelsey Siegert in conjunction with Art History 3910: Contemporary Curatorial Practices.
Free and open to the public
Lee Center for the Arts (CNFA)
901 12th Avenue, between Marion and Spring | 206-296-2244
Open: Wednesday through Friday 1:00-6:00 PM
2 Hour Parking is available on the street and visitor parking is available in Seattle University parking lots.
The Hedreen Gallery is wheelchair accessible.
For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations please contact Seattle University Galleries Curator Molly Mac. Two weeks advance notice of need for accommodations is requested.