THE SERVING LIBRARY

From spring 2020 onwards, The Serving Library will be indefinitely installed at 019. The annex pictured on the right is currently being prepared to accommodate The Serving Library’s collection of objects, which, will then serve as the backdrop for some seminar-based teaching usually geared towards students of art, design, and writing (see below). Any schools or groups interested in participating should write to info@019-ghent.org

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As well as staging irregular exhibitions of its collection, The Serving Library also operates as a satellite seminar room, conducting tailored classes for university-level art, design and writing students.

Our ongoing programs invoke particularly artistic points of view on a broad spectrum of subjects — the humanities, including art, design, writing, philosophy, and literature; as well as more literary renditions of mathematical and scientific ideas — according with the most recent and upcoming issues. Semester-long themes have included Time, Typography, Psychedelia, Numbers, Color, and Perspective, among others. Typically, a selection of bulletins are assigned for reading and class discussion, with selections from the backdrop of artifacts on the walls often entering into play as unusually telling and instructive counterpoints to the written materials.

As liberal education suffers the effects of relentless corporatization and sterilization, The Serving Library offers a space for teaching in which the environment itself is conducive to thinking and doing. Such programs are arranged according to each visiting group’s specific interests and logistical considerations, from intensive week-long or multi-week courses and workshops for groups traveling from outside Ghent, to single, day-long seminar meetings for groups who can more easily access The Serving Library from within Belgium, to persistent, periodic attendance for local university groups.

Current and recent institutional collaborations:

Kingston University
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Liverpool
University of Leeds
Royal College of Art, London
St. Martins School of Art, London
Raumlaborberlin, Dusseldorf
Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg
The University of Reading
Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam
Dusseldorf Art Academy
University of Art and Design, Geneva
The Banff Centre, Banff

The Serving Library maintains a collection of framed objects, each the source of an illustration that has appeared on the pages of our journal or its predecessors Bulletins of The Serving Library (2011–2017) and Dot Dot Dot (2000–2010). The collection includes items as diverse as record sleeves, watercolors, woodcuts, polaroids, drawings, screen-prints, airbrush paintings, a car number plate, and a ouija board. Together these varied objects decorate the walls of the library to be drawn into our programs, essentially serving as a toolbox for teaching.

The collection can be previewed here, with a corresponding PDF of images and captions here, plus an early account of the idea here.

It is also possible for other institutions to borrow one or more of the objects by arrangement. For more information about loans contact francesca@servinglibrary.org.

The collection has accumulated over time, expanding gradually with the support of countless colleagues and institutions as it passed through various host venues across Europe and North America before arriving at a location of its own in Liverpool in June 2016 — first at a storefront in the city’s old mercantile district, and then at Exhibition Research Lab in the School of Art & Design, Liverpool John Moores University from April 2017 – October 2018. The next installation of the collection will open in spring 2020 at Kunsthal Gent in Belgium, where it will remain on view and in use for the foreseeable future.*

Originally under the auspices of Dot Dot Dot, early exhibitions of the material included shows at Kaleri Tartu, Estonia (2005), Lyon Biennial (2007), Kunstverein München (2008), Culturgest Porto (2009), OCA, Oslo (2009), Kunstverein, Amsterdam (2010), and Liveinyourhead, Geneva (2010). The collection was then incorporated into The Serving Library when it was formally established in 2011, and immediately put to pedagogical use during “From the Toolbox of a Serving Library,” a six-week summer school at The Banff Centre, Canada (2011). From there it traveled to New York, first showcased at Artists Space (2012), then part of an evolving group show called The End(s) of the Library at the Goethe-Institut Library (2013).

A year later, and by now filling four shipping crates, the collection landed in the UK to hang for a season within an eccentric structure designed by French architect Claude Parent at Tate Liverpool (2014). Next was a brief stint of “Open Storage” in the foyer of The School of Art & Design at LJMU (2015) with a single object on view every few weeks, followed by another iteration as part of the group show “Resource” at Bluecoat(2015). In 2016 The Serving Library moved into its first dedicated space at the historic India Buildings in downtown Liverpool, then returned to LJMU’s Exhibition Research Lab in 2017, where it remained until late 2018. While resident at LJMU, objects from the collection were exhibited at CCA Glasgow and Kunsthalle Wien. At the end of 2018, the collection was installed at Nottingham Trent University’s Bonington Gallery, in visual dialogue with a new large commission by English artist David Osbaldeston.

A book amounting to an Extended Caption was published by Roma Publications in tandem with the Porto exhibition in 2009.