Library Interventions. A Call for Agents: Sharon Kivland’s Proposal


Sharon Kivland issued the following A CALL FOR AGENTS:

Women reading, April 30, 1910, Siegel-Cooper Company

Women reading, April 30, 1910, Siegel-Cooper Company

While I would like nothing better than a month in a library (I had the luxury of a whole day working in the British Library recently), following the kind invitation from Leeds College of Art Library, it is not really possible. I know an intervention might take many forms – that there is not a constraint of being present; nonetheless, that is what I would like most – a month or two of reading. How much easier my work would be if others were to undertake it for me. To this end, I invite applications from willing agents to go in my place and do my reading for me, imagining what I would read and to what ends: subjects are various, but would clearly require a little research on my work in advance (nothing too arduous), and might include the subjects of collections, revolutions, fashion and dress, fragmented bodies, the uncanny, postcards, stuffed animals, embroidery (oh my, there is vast possibility). It is, I suppose, a master/slave relation, after Hegel, for there is lordship on my part, and a form of bondage on yours, at least initially – for if one considers Hegel’s dialectic: after thesis and antithesis, there is self-realisation, and thus freedom. There will be a period of research, each agent following his or her proposed line of investigation (subjects are various, as I have suggested above); then the writing of a report for me, a report on knowledge (as I used to do a long time ago when I worked for a film company doing research). This will lead to a publication of a modest yet attractive nature, of my own, and a publication or object or image from each of my agents (therein lies the self-realisation), to be installed in the library. The proposals, of both successful and unsuccessful applicants, will be installed as text panels in the library in February.

There are two library branches, and agents will be welcomed at both. The College is closed on Sundays, but the Blenheim Walk site is open during the day on Saturdays. At least one site is open on weekday evenings until 9 p.m. Other artists taking part over the year of the project include Pavel Büchler and Nick Thurston.

I would like to extend the project over time rather than compress it, but it is a vastly flexible idea – my agents may come for a day, a week, a month, as individuals quietly working in the collection (it is also on-line). Work would begin on 3rd February and end on 28th March. There will be a closing event, with a wine reception (of course), the form and time/date of which is yet to be determined, as it rather depends on what comes out of the work undertaken. There will also be an interim event, during the Leeds Artists Book Fair in March, a report on progress.

Money? Well, as agents/slaves, you could hardly expect to be paid, for your jouissance on my behalf is its own reward (in short, you are paid by my pleasure), but there is a very small budget for travel, which I would divide fairly, as a good master should.

Timetable and other logistics are to be discussed, I think, following application, which should take the form of a short but beguiling proposal, to be received by mid-January.


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