Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"POPLAB" Debuts!

The unit, titled Werkberg, was created by sculptors Cassandra Emswiler, Kristen Cochran, and Greg Metz, and is part of the Co- Re-Creating Spaces exhibition at CentralTrak, 800 Exposition Ave., Dallas, that opened on Nov. 17, 2012, the first anniversary of the nationwide Occupy demonstrations that authorities presumably hoped to avert by evicting all the camps within the preceding 24 hrs.

The Werkberg houses a selection of enjoyable yet empowering books and videos donated by various collaborators, as well as projected views of artists' work spaces (the unit was partially inspired by Gregory Sholette's Dark Matter).

The show includes a related work, 451 degrees, by Karen Weiner with Celia & Frank Eberle, which functions as a card catalogue for the library (I'll try to get a pic of that and post it here soon).

The exhibition "surveys how artists are questioning and subverting existing systems, contexts, or spaces – the law, the economy, history, the news, language, etc. – and contributing to their re-imagining and re-creation, recognizing that 'reality' itself can be both art medium and art object, and speculates how developments in the virtual and the actual might affect one another."

In addition to the artists mentioned above, the show also includes works by Morehshin Allahyari; Nadav Assor; Amy Balkin; Aram Bartholl; Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler; Linda Bilda; Irina Botea; Martha Colburn; eteam; Cao Fei; Yevgeniy Fiks, Olga Kopenkina, & Alexandra Lerman; the Institute for Wishful Thinking; Martha Rosler; Dread Scott; and the Yes Men with Steve Lambert; and it was curated by Carolyn Sortor and Mike Morris.

See the exhibition through January 5, Sats. noon - 5pm or by appointment (subject to changes over the holidays); more details at Co- Re-Creating Spaces.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy B-day, Occupy!

A friend in Baltimore shot this photo this evening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Exhibition at CentralTrak; Event at The Reading Room

We've been quiet but busy.

We now have a cool crew committed to creating the first POPLAB! More details will be announced soon, but I can tell you it's scheduled to debut at an exhibition that Mike Morris and I are co-curating, which will open at CentralTrak on Nov. 17 – mark your calendars!

The OccuLibrary has been invited to be included in Make Art with Purpose, itself an art project created by Janeil Engelstad. Among other things, its MAP website helps people connect with a selection of other art projects that are designed to lead to positive social and environmental change.

Meanwhile, Danette Dufilho and Anne Lawrence are creating an OccuLibrary-inspired project called the Yankee Doodles Sing-A-Lot Sing-A-Long. This will be a series of programs for kids in which they'll participate in sing-alongs while learning about the songs' historical significance. The first event will take place Sunday, Aug. 19, from 4 - 6PM, at The Reading Room art gallery, in cooperation with the gals from Oil and Cotton, who will conduct a related visual art activity. All ages welcome; I and my literally or figuratively kid-ish friends can't wait! The Reading Room is at 3715 Parry Ave., Dallas.

UPDATE: You can now see video of the Yankee Doodles program at Art this Week (thanks, Richie and Kate!) (Image right by Elijah Sala.)

Updated OccuLibrary needs:
People to help wrangle books for the POPLAB
People to help catalogue them
Grant writers or other fund raisers
People who are good with people
People who can get big things done
People who can get small things done
People with good ideas or advice
And more!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Few Thoughts Behind this Project

. . . (among others):

An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.
–Thomas Jefferson, Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Digital Edition, (1760-1799?).

Knowledge is power.
– Sir Francis Bacon, Religious Meditations, Of Heresies (1597).

A balance of power requires a balance of knowledge.

A modern economic system demands mass production of students who are not educated and have been rendered incapable of thinking.
– U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, On the Poverty of Student Life (1966).

Hatred never ceases by hatred;
But by love alone is healed.
This is an ancient and eternal law.

– "Dhammapada," Ch. 1, the Twin Verses 5, as quoted by Maha Ghosananda

There is no responsibility without freedom;
No freedom, without power;
No power, without knowledge;
No knowledge, without love.
Through the ages, the powerful have sought to limit our access to important knowledge by gaining control of the media and education and by defunding or otherwise attacking sources they can't control. In our time, the internet has become a vital “public square” for free expression, but as Lawrence Lessig observed in Foreign Policy as long ago as 2001, "[t]he innovation commons of the Internet threatens important and powerful pre-Internet interests. During the past five years, those interests have mobilized to launch a counterrevolution that is now having a global impact."

The infowar is not a war against or for any particular nation. Rather, it’s a struggle between old and new power structures over who will control information. In such times, the dissemination of truth becomes a subversive act.

And as Julian Assange suggested at the New Media Days 2009 conference, Denmark, “[Wikileaks] can't do it alone . . . We spend our efforts getting [the information] to you and allow you to publish it. But you've got to turn it into a story and make it moving to the population.”

While info can serve as a weapon in the infowar, it’s not the only one. P.r. can obscure and distort; data doesn’t inevitably empower. Sometimes it takes art to create personal, actionable insight; or, as artist William Powhida put it in What Has The Art World Taught Me? (2012):

. . . or at least, lure them toward it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The "GlamROccuLibrarymentary Trailer Shoot 1"

Since we don't have a cart yet, we pulled together a script consisting of short chunks of text describing the project and a bunch of relevant quotations from writers and artists through the ages, and we invited passers-by to read whatever bits they liked best while we videotaped them, with the idea of editing them into a promo. The response was enthusiastic, and we got some great footage, shared some good info, and everyone had a great time. We think we'll do it again.

The second photo shows our ultra-hot GlamROccuLibrarians, Sally Glass and George Quartz. We also made some cool little 'zines to hand out.

We were too busy shooting video to get many photos, so if you happen to have any, we'd love to see them.

If you'd like to get involved, we could use:
POPLAB (bookbuggy) builders
Librarians (real or artificial)
Grant writers or other fund raisers
People who can recruit others
People who can organize others
People who can pitch in now and then
Make us an offer!
You're invited to help us co- re-create reality, only better!

UPDATE: Nice mention by Margaret Meehan in Glasstire!

An installation of the sandwich boards, 'zines, and props remains on view at the Shamrock (along with the rest of the Fallas Dart Air), on Sat. afternoons or by appt. until 4/28, at 4312-1/2 Elm St. between Peak and Carroll.

FURTHER UPDATE: You can download PDF files of the sandwich boards here. They're standard poster size and print-ready; feel free to use them in your own OccuLibrary incarnations.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

OccuLibrary Project Debuts Tonight

At the The Fallas Dart Air, 5 - 9PM, at Shamrock Hotel Studios, 4312 Elm St., Dallas between Peak and Carroll (more details at the link): GlamROccuLibrarymentary: Trailer 1 Shoot (2012), by Carolyn Sortor and Lizzy Wetzel, with performances by Sally Glass and George Quartz. The Fallas Dart Air is occurring the same weekend as the Dallas Art Fair. (Photo right by P. Peniweight).

We haven't got a cart built yet, but we've made some pretty fine printed materials for our p.r. debut (p.r. being 1/2 of what this project is about anyway. You can click on the image below left for a more legible version; or contact us if you'd like a hi-res pdf).

The show also includes work by lots of other great artists: Kristen Cochran, Lanie Delay, Vince Jones, Kirsten Macy, Margaret Meehan, Ludwig Schwarz, Marjorie Schwarz, Edward Setina, Lizzy Wetzel, and open studios of Lily Hanson, Peter Ligon, Marianne Newsom, Brian Ryden, Noah Simblist, Sunny Sliger, and Saul Waranch.

Many thanks to Peter Ligon for creating our illustrious venue, organizing the show, and encouraging us to debut the project there!

(Click on the images for larger versions. B.t.w., if you'd like to help build a cart, pls contact us!)

Thought for the Night

I dreamed this the other night:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Occupy Libraries Around the World

. . . in pictures, at The Guardian.

As I understand, most if not all Occupy libraries contain whatever materials anyone cared to donate, including books from all points along the political spectrum (see, e.g., the description of the OWS-NY library here).

Presentation by OWS-NY Librarians

. . . here; a great read. In one part I especially liked, they read a letter they'd received from protest librarians elsewhere:

Hi Peoples Library!

Cheers from the public library of the Spanish revolution occupation at Madrid!

. . . . We have been following OWS from the very first day and let’s say we are glad to see that you found the way out to organise you up almost in the same way we did while we were camping at the city hall square in Madrid at Puerta del Sol.

What we saw [in] the pics of OWS was quite impressive, but you couldn’t imagine how surprised we were when we realized that OWS has also a library. It may sound stupid but when we knew that, we celebrated it as the born of a new one in the family.

. . . [D]uring the nearly seven weeks we lived there hearing the rain fall over the piece of plastic that barely covered our books (not us) we had a lot of time to think about what we were going through. The media described us as bums, the government as the most dangerous kind of terrorists (the pacifists kind) and we slept always waiting for the final police riot that would throw everything down. . . . We never knew what we were doing, we only knew that it was right. People said it was useless to demand a U-turn in local politics in a country with a globalized economy. We replied if so, that we expected to make our demands go global then, they said it was a childish dream and they laughed . . . .

We only want to thank all of you to be there, because maybe you don’t realize it, but you’re making our dream come true . . . . Obviously to do the right thing, far from being a utopia or related to culture, is a matter of common sense.

We should say that none of us decided to open up a library during our occupation, it appeared by itself. People who came to support us wanted us to have some of their books, they wanted us to read and to take care of them. We started out only with forty titles. People came up to rest from the everyday routines, trying to find a shelter in the written words under our blue tent, poets showed up to read them their works and free thinkers their essays…The manager of one major corporate library in town gave us book-carts and everything we needed. “Just don’t tell anyone” he asked. One donation come after another and in a few weeks we reached nearly four thousands titles at our outdoor library. A funny heritage to save considering that we were waiting to be bludgeoned and evicted from one minute to other . . . .

* * * * *

Pd[sic]: Sorry for our lousy English.
[Emphasis and minor editing supplied.]

Among other interesting items from the OWS-NY librarians' presentation, they mentioned that prior to the Nov. 15 eviction, their library had catalogued 4,000 books, and they had a tent, shelves, tables, chairs, bins, laptops, and misc. supplies. As part of the post-midnite, surprise eviction, virtually all of it was hauled off by NY authorities in garbage trucks. "Shortly after the raid, the Mayor’s office sent out a picture via twitter of some books on a table, saying that the People’s Library was safe, and that we would be able to go recover it." In fact, the librarians were able to recover only 802 of the library's books, nearly 300 of which were in only marginally usable condition, and none of the other property.

Lots more at the link, including a description of the library's innovative organizational/decision-making structure/procedure.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Most Occupy camps had library tents, including the camp in Dallas; and when the camps were evicted, the libraries were largely destroyed.  (In New York, e.g., camp librarians had catalogued some 4,000 books, out of which only 802 were recovered, many  in barely usable condition; and their laptops and other property were destroyed.)

We're interested in creating art-assisted reincarnations of these libraries.

More particularly, the project mission is to use aesthetically-informed strategies to lure artists and other citizens toward info that can help empower the 99%, as well as to foster critical and cultural awareness in general.

We plan to begin with the creation of one or two "bookmobile" carts (one of which could live in a gallery or community space, while the other hits the streets). Tentatively called the "People's Occupy Pop-up Library All-terrain Bookbuggy" ("POPLAB"), and possibly consisting of a suped-up, book-filled laundry cart or other mobile unit w/ excessive tires + an eye-catching sign, which could perambulate populated public areas in an amusing/alluring manner. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Additional evolutions could include a pop-up library installation (the "People's Occupy Pretty-big Top Education + Networking Tent" ("POPTENT")? that could temporarily live in available gallery spaces, school campuses, community centers, etc. It could host performances, art talks, screenings, readings, etc., as well as books, videos, + other materials.

Artist-modified or -created books or information packets + an open-call, blind-curated art show are some other ideas. We'd like to hear yours!