The Library of Our Encounters: words between us, hanging just so, 2022
Library-based participatory project and installation (link)
Curator and spatial designer
In 2020, Swimming Pool (Sofia, Bulgaria) initiated The Library of Our Encounters – a long-term project dedicated to what has changed most radically lately: the encounter – as event, presence, time, and meaning.
The second edition, titled words between us, hanging just so, continued to explore the idea of the encounter as a space for reflection and transformation. The project combined the personal and the collective – and turned the encounter between people and ideas into an opportunity to slow down and rethink our surrounding reality.
Friends and colleagues, visitors and like-minded individuals were invited to participate in creating a new type of library. Everyone carries inside topics and texts they would like to share, as well as emotions and fantasies associated with them. We met and copied by hand those words significant to us, preserving their innermost value but also entrusting it to others.
The texts formed a growing archive of presences and encounters, of emerging relations and connections. With copying in longhand as a method for generating written material, we turned to a way of self-reflection and sharing more personal than digital copying. The handwriting on each of the manuscripts imprinted the self of the person who chose the passage and through whose mind the words had passed before becoming part of the publicness of the archive. It was this process of creation that embodied the idea of the library as an encounter; exhibiting the fragments materialized it and became a testimony to its occurrence.
The dynamic architecture that contained the texts borrowed elements from the geometry of Swimming Pool. The floating wooden portals offered a new perspective and created an atmosphere of daydreaming, and their spatial overlapping offered a fluid framing of meanings.
Transcripts were generated in the library, and new presences were added to it. Books from Swimming Pool’s and other libraries were available to copy a fragment from. People could become part of the spatial archive with a passage from a book of their choosing as well, which they could add to the library.
As part of words between us, hanging just so, in the second half of March there were several informal conversations with colleagues and friends about words, books, the archive, and the encounter. Among them were Natasha Cheung, a visual artist from Hong Kong who views text, installation, photography, video, performance, conversation, as well as drawing itself as forms of drawing – and a means of articulating incompatible assemblages of identity; Min Park, a learner and a creative from Seoul, South Korea whose greatest interests lie in the intersection of art and writing, and whose work has focused on personal and collective archives, among other topics; Sofia Popiordanova, a visual artist in the spheres of graphic design, illustration, and book design, who in her personal projects experiments with different book formats and with the possibilities of illustration; and Momchil Milanov, whose novel Summer in Stormland opened up a conversation about the ability of imagination to resist power, as well as about traumas and historical memory.
The library not only contained a growing selection of books and manuscripts, but it also foregrounded itself as a possible space for a series of encounters between words, ideas, silences, and people, aiming to reconsider the trajectory of our thinking in times of crisis.
(images by Lubomir Draganov)