Voz Ativa: Biblioteca Social [Active Voice: Social Library] is an inedited installation that proposes to reactivate the Casa do Povo library, a space that remained closed for 40 years. The proposition of artist Mariana Lanari consists of distributing the institution’s collection of more than 8 thousand books over a 500 square meters surface during the exhibition period, from July 2nd to 27th, 2019.
The books will be disposed on the floor over a drawing of the map of Bom Retiro, the neighborhood where Casa do Povo is situated. To project the vicinity on the books is a way to remind ourselves of the history of this library, composed by different private collections of migrants who came to Brazil escaping the Second World War in the 1940s and found a home at Bom Retiro. In addition to titles in Portuguese, the collection also contains titles in Yiddish, German, French, Russian, and Spanish, encompassing themes connected with the culture of resistance, economy, politics, social movements, pedagogical avant-gardes, literature, art, and Jewish culture.
Just as a neighborhood without residents does not make a vicinity, a library without readers is nothing but a warehouse. In Active Voice: Social Library, the audience is invited to transit in this library-neighborhood and to take part in a sound performance where seven voices are mixed live by the artist. A sound system, with mikes spread throughout the space, will allow to compile amplified and remixed readings over the exhibition period. “The idea is to invite people to read these books and to mix those recordings live, making it a collective performance that maps the themes of the library, all the while it works as an engine that puts the collection in movement,” explains the project curator Marília Loureiro.
Through the instructions provided by Mariana Lanari, the reader-visitor will also be able to intervene in the installation, moving books in the space based in different and possible cataloging criteria, so as to allow this constantly moving library to become a rhizome, without getting stuck to classical systems of knowledge division.
About the artist
Mariana Lanari is an editor, artist, and researcher based in Amsterdam. Her research is based on cultural translation dynamics, the interactions between policies of access to knowledge, as well as collective memory infrastructures in archives and libraries, both physical and digital. In 2015/2016, she accomplished the project Moving Thinking – the origin of one’s thought is the thought of another, which took place at the Stedelijk Museum library, in Amsterdam, one of the main modern art collections in Europe. For this nine-month performance, the artist reconfigured the collection of more than 190 thousand volumes, regrouping the books and creating new connections, in which the elements found in a title were the point of departure to catalog the following book, thus suggesting a metaphor to the construction of thought and the memory of the museum.