I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
– Jorge Luis Borges
Transcending dust-covered shelves of paper pages, gold-glinting hums and quiet whispers. Bibliotheca 700 offers a different kind of library. Although works on walls are categorized thematically, according to the 1876 Dewey Decimal Classification, the exhibition also aims to subvert conventions of knowledge production. The title of the show is also a reference to the Latin word for library or collection of books. The curated space invites viewers to ‘read’ the works in relation to larger thematic overlays. An interactive library that beckons one to, “…research a topic that intrigues you, lose yourself beyond language, discover more about something you had never previously been curious about, or forget a thought you didn’t know you knew”.
Curated by Bridget Modema, assisted by Sharon Moses and Bruce Bowale, the show generates dialogue through a triangulation between viewer, artist and artwork. The pieces are famed as objects that attempt to ‘speak back’ through systems of meaning-making in moments of encounter. This diverse cohort of artists on show, include the likes of Matty Monethi, Mhlonishwa Chiliza, Michele Rolstone, Henrietta Scholtz, Lebo Thoka, Neo Mahlangu, Nico Athene, Bridget Modema, Bruce Bowale, Patrick Seruwu, Sharon Moses, Sibusiso Khumalo, Vianca Malan, and Kenneth Shandu. The textual elements and artists’ statements provide points of access to the adjacent works. In a sense functioning like catalogue cards.
The exhibition is a product of this year’s Artist Career Boot Camp – presented by Art Source South Africa in partnership with the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios and supported by the National Arts Council. The fourteen exhibitors partook in an intensive three-month programme to develop a new body of work on display. Thematically congruent, the literary topics and threads of interest in Bibliotheca 700 include aspects of identity, trauma, spirituality and articulations of liminal space in which textual connotations become a collection of visual bibliographies. As Susan Sontag once poetically penned, “my library is an archive of longings”.
The show runs from the 24th of May – 7th of June 2019 at the Bag Factory.