The Martha Rosler Library
17 April 2008
LJMU's School of Art and Design organises first UK exhibition of the acclaimed Martha Rosler Library
Established in 2005, this unique collection of around 7,700 books first opened as a storefront reading room for the New York-based arts project e-flux. Since then, it has travelled across Europe, opening in the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany, in Antwerp's Muhka (Museum of Contemporary Art), the United Nations Plaza School in Berlin, and the Institut National de L'Histoire de L'Art in Paris.
The first UK exhibition of the Martha Rosler Library has been organised in collaboration with e-flux by LJMU's Site Gallery in collaboration with the Liverpool Biennial. It opened to the public on 12 April and will remain on view in Liverpool until 14 June when it will move to Edinburgh, opening to the public in August 2008.
John Byrne, manager and curator of LJMU's Site Project, said: "LJMU is a supporter of contemporary art and as such is extremely pleased to secure this outstanding exhibition. We are currently in the final stages of developing our new Art and Design Academy and this show exemplifies the ambitions of the University and Liverpool Biennial to help make Liverpool a true capital of the arts."
Brooklyn-based Martha Rosler is one of America's most important living artists. The Library is as eclectic as her art is varied - she works in video, sculpture, photo-text, installation, and performance. The Library's titles range from political theory, art history and poetry to science fiction, mystery and children's books; there are also periodicals, dictionaries, maps and travel books, as well as photo albums, posters, postcards and newspaper clippings. The contents are both a source of inspiration for Rosler's work and an installation in their own right - with the live components being lectures, reading groups and discussions.
John Byrne continued: "Usually exhibitions invite you to look but not touch. This Library invites you to do the opposite; to pick things up, to engage with the books and other materials on the shelves, to think for yourself rather than being instructed on what to look at and what to think."
Martha Rosler was reunited with her collection on 9 April when she oversaw the final stages of installation at 68 Hope Street. However, she is no stranger to the city, having taken part in the 2004 Liverpool Biennial. She also took part in a public discussion in the Library on Saturday 12 April.
Paula Domela, Liverpool Biennial's Programme Director, said: "It was great to welcome Martha Rosler back to Liverpool. As an artist she is concerned with making history visible, with looking beyond the surfaces of what she calls 'the prepared world, the one already interpreted for us'. Her extensive body of work and contributions to contemporary art and social theory have profoundly influenced an entire generation of younger artists. The Martha Rosler Library will no doubt add to the debate on what constitutes art and contemporary artistic practice."
The Martha Rosler Library will be open to the public between 12 April-14 June 2008, 11am-6pm, Monday to Saturday, closed Sundays. Further conversations will include Shepherd Steiner, Simon Sheikh Maria Hlavajova and Centre of Attention.
Top: Artist Martha Rosler is reunited with her collection in 68 Hope Street.
Bottom: Art and design students at the Martha Rosler Library Private View.