Eva Olthof’s new installation Return to Rightful Owner invites visitors to consider the thin line between the private act of reading and the public space of a library.
Olthof combines ideologically loaded texts, carved on library facades, with the politics of forgetting, remembering and citing. The starting point of the installation and her eponymous book is the complex political history of the American Memorial Library (Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, AGB) in Berlin. This was the first American style “open access public library”, founded in the 1950s as a gift to the inhabitants of West Berlin, where for the first time different sorts of literature were made available there for every layer of the society.
The new installation links the observations Eva Olthof made during a research trip in 2015 to a number of public libraries in the United States (Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Detroit) with material from her book Return to Rightful Owner. In the United States these often monumental library buildings are frequently inscribed with texts on the façades referring to the creation of the American democratic state under the rule of law. The promises of free access to knowledge and information, literally shown on the façades of the libraries, are diametrically opposed to recent events in the United States. Edward Snowden could be put away as a traitor for sharing information which concerns that very democracy in America. These libraries served as a source of inspiration for the American Memorial Library, which implemented the same ideological promises in West Berlin
Eva Olthof has been working on publications, installations and performances in which she examines the history of specific locations and events since 2010. She collects different sorts of images and texts in her fieldwork, archive work and photography, and then rearranges them to create a new installation. In the selection process serendipity, ambiguity and irony play an important role. Currently she is working on a follow-up project in Yogyakarta: a radio project on the Merapi volcano.
4th September, 2016 - 6th January, 2017
FINISSAGE - Exhibition reading
Thursday, January 5, 16:00 - 17:00