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Reading as art

Reading as art

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre


Reading as art is a series of events as library 'occupations'

Reading as art is a series of events as library 'occupations'. Reading as art is a series of events conceived as reading interventions or library 'occupations', the source of which lies in Reading as a Contemporary Art, which took place in early summer 2013, a the ICA, London, convened by Sarah Wood. Writers, artists, teachers and academics who work with, and on, reading presented work and discussed what reading brings to contemporary art. There are traditions, theories and learned practices of reading but it is also a more or less spontaneous, private and unregulated occurrence. And what happens to reading when we are confronted by the unreadable? Participants were Stephen Benson, Kate Briggs, Clare Connors, Brian Dillon, Peter Jaeger, Sharon Kivland, Forbes Morlock, Nicholas Royle, and Sarah Wood.

Reading as Art: Turning the Pages of Psychology followed in October, at Senate House Library, University of London. Evoking a wind that blows through a library, opening books, prompting unexpected stories, this evening of readings, performances, and art engages with the library collections of Victorian psychology. Staged in three rooms of the Senate House library, the event was convened by artist and writer Sharon Kivland, in collaboration with psychology librarian Mura Ghosh. This event was part of the Bloomsbury Festival, and was held in association with a symposium of the British Psychological Society taking place earlier on the same day.

It included performances, films, readings, text works, a wind, and a séance by Deborah Booth, Kate Briggs, Jan Campbell, Jamie Crewe. Vincent Dachy & Bridget MacDonald, Karen David, Annabel Frearson, Rachel Garfield & Janet Hodges, Chris Gibson, Laura Gonzales, Jane Harris, Peter Jaeger, Kreider & O'Leary and Paul Bavister, Catherine Linton, Sophie Loss, John McDowall, Forbes Morlock, Naomi Segal, Sarah Sparkes, Holly Stevenson, Hester Reeve, Julie Westerman, Sarah Wood, Gillian Wylde.

The next event is also at Senate Library, in April 2014, and will take up the theme of the move from reading to loud to silent reading, but reversing from silence to sound. There is an erroneous (but enjoyable) belief that in the classical world people read aloud to themselves rather than silently. James Fenton writes: 'In order to read aloud well, especially when a text is written without breaks between words (as was classical practice), it seems important to possess the gift to read ahead simultaneously. Silent reading is a necessary adjunct to [...] reading aloud for sound and sense.'

From February to March 2014, Kivland is artist-in-residence as part of Library Interventions, a series of residencies in the Library of Leeds College of Art.

Researchers involved

Dr Sharon Kivland - Reader in Fine Art, Principal Lecturer

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