What happens when a library that has been closed for forty years reopens its doors?
Faced with the imminent reinauguration of the Casa do Povo Library, such is the question inhabiting not only the building, but also the bodies circulating within it. Since 2017, the Living Archive project has been posing questions on what is the sense of retrieving the activities of the library and the documental archive of Casa do Povo.
How to make public a public collection?
How can an archive tell the story of a space built by multiple and contradictory voices?
How can a library organize different knowledges without immobilizing them?
The reorganization of the library and its opening are the result of a collective process. It counted on members of the groups and initiatives that compose the Povo da Casa, such as Marina Sendacz and Leda Tronca, associates of Casa do Povo in charge of preserving the archive and who also take part in the dynamics of the institution for many generations now, as well as the technical staff of the space. The proposition was not only to reopen the library as it used to be, but rather to integrate it to what currently exists in the building, so as to allow the past to resignify the present and vice versa.
By means of workshops, talks, and activations, we came to understand together that Casa do Povo hosted not just one, but several libraries. In addition to nearly 8 thousand books, many of them coming in the suitcases of immigrant refugees fleeing the Second World War, there were also the collections of the collectives based in the institution. The library of sewing molds of Ateliê Vivo, the typography collection of Ocupeacidade, the posters and publications made at the Parquinho Gráfico, and the scores of Coral Tradição broaden the narratives about Casa do Povo. The different typologies of these collections evidence the plurality of practices going on at the place, all the while they also deepen some of the axes of work of the Casa since its foundation – memory, resistance, experimentation, collectivities, neighborhood, progressive judaism, left-oriented movements etc.
The creation of this physical space materializes a wide range of invisible moments of coexistence and collective knowledge that take place at Casa do Povo on a daily basis, putting on the same space the practices that normally happen in separated times and spaces. The furniture designed by O grupo inteiro integrates these different types of records and collections, providing visitors with other possibilities of frequenting the space. In this sense, the library works both as a crossing space of knowledges and stories connected with themes of interest of Casa do Povo, and as a self-reflexive platform seeking to think what might a library be today, in all its living potency.
The Living Archive does not find an end with the inauguration, quite the opposite: a series of activations will take place throughout the year and will be disclosed as part of the schedule.
The collection of the Casa do Povo Library is available for consultation on site only, from Tuesday to Saturday, from 2 pm to 7 pm.