Two Oxford Reading Rooms was published in 1994 as part of a commission by Bookworks called The Reading Room Project. Kosuth created installations within two rooms of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford: The Voltaire Room, which is in the Taylor Institution, the University’s centre for the study of modern languages and literature (except English) and The Divinity School, which was built in 1488 for the teaching of theology.
The book, a configuration of the installations, interweaves texts by Francois Voltaire and John Locke within two intimate spaces, The (ethical) space of cabinets 7 & 8 and Say: I do not know.
Translucent, tracing paper pages and die-cut windows allow the texts to be read within the ‘rooms’ of the book.
The dwarf, who sometimes judged a bit too hastily, decided at once that there was no one on the earth, his first reason being that he had seen no one. Micromegas politely made him feel that this was a poor enough reason.
“With your little eyes,” he said, “you do not see certain stars of the fiftieth magnitude, which I perceive very distinctly. Do you conclude from your blindness that these stars do not exist? (Francois Voltaire)
Amongst such kind of collective Ideas are to be counted most part of artificial things, at least such of them as are made up of distinct substances: and, in truth, if we consider all these collective Ideas aright, as ARMY, Constellation, Universe, as they are united into so many single Ideas, they are but the artificial Draughts of the Mind; bringing things very remote, and independent on one another, into one view, the better to contemplate and discourse of them, united into one conception, and signified by one name. (John Locke)
Biggiero, F., 2009 Joseph Kosuth: the language of equilibrium. Milan: Mondadori Electa
Kosuth, J., 1994 Two Oxford reading rooms. London: Bookworks
Kosuth, J., 1993 Art after philosophy and after: collected writings, 1966-90. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Locke, J., 2001 The works of John Locke: volume 1. Boston, MA: Adamant Media Corporation
Voltaire, F., 2007 The complete romances of Voltaire. Rockville, MD: Wildside Press