In 2009 I became the surprised co-owner of a 4000+ collection of books ranging in subject matter from theology to religious and folk mysticism, poetry, literature, the arts and sciences and a troubling array of Irish ‘rebel’ writing) all spanning a period of the last four hundred years. At the time myself and American artist Danyel Ferrari were on residency at an Irish monastery in Westmeath. I had been instantly struck by the peculiar nature of the volumes in their private library, so much so that myself and Ferrari decided to collaborate on producing a work with them. This became a week long work in which we read, rummaged and constructed. Using the books as both talking points and physical building blocks and living within the old library walls, we constructed for ourselves a habitable semi-secluded domestic space from the books, inaugurating what was to be the first of many ‘social hermitages’.
Two things struck me especially after the public had entered; one – that much of the unnecessary reverence towards old knowledge is broken down when books are employed in a more tactile way and two – that we had at our disposal an extraordinary collection of books which exhibited a heightened sense of both redundancy and potency, containing as they did a striking snapshot of Irish history, and that this kind of knowledge had never before been accessible to the general public. When it was later disclosed that the Friary were intent on disposing of the collection there was no doubt in our minds that we should be its next curators.
The LFTT (Legs Foundation for The Translation of Things) Library has since existed less as dead delimited archive and more as a quietly renegade ‘space within space’ (an abutmant or oblique intervention), providing a transitory platform for creative debate and artistic output by engaging with pre-existing architectures. Equally it survives as physical material full of furtive content, which has been worked on and mobilised into video and sound works, sculpture and installation, music, performance and theatre, all of which expands on our starting position of what constituted the ‘archive’ as a collection of disowned knowledge hidden behind the sealed walls of a Franciscan Monastery.
How absolutely wonderful. All very exciting. I’m so excited by it all that I’m actually thinking of applying for your residency. Can my blog be my CV? Either way, this is all lovely and inspirational stuff. Thank you. 🙂