Each work within the series entitled “From the Library of…” is a depiction of an imaginary library housing a multitude of containers or repositories for knowledge, represented by hand-blown mirrored...
Each work within the series entitled “From the Library of…” is a depiction of an imaginary library housing a multitude of containers or repositories for knowledge, represented by hand-blown mirrored objects. These archives propose to contain knowledge within unique, material objects “as mysterious as the knowledge itself,” suggesting that knowledge is “potentially beyond words or books.” Viewers look within each frame to a vista of endlessly-refracted hexagonal architecture, implying that each library is in itself vast, and also just one of many possible libraries.
Could there be a library of ideas of motion—of knowledge transmitted through dance or movement? What would the items that contain or represent that look like? McElheny explains, “Elliptical Motion is one of the most important discoveries in physics and cosmology. It is how the Earth itself moves.” Discovery of elliptical motion led Western Civilizations to finally understand that humans are not at the center of the universe. It could be said this paradigm shift away from any perceived “center” led toward ideas of equality among humans, animals, and the Earth. This work imagines a library of motion consisting of mirrored ellipse-forms supported on elevated bases. According to the artist, “these shapes might suggest motion spinning inside, or maybe atoms colliding inside. These forms also end up looking like heads, and have an anthropomorphic, abstract aspect. The shapes and images created in this work sometimes remind me of landscapes by de Chirico.”
Josiah McElheny, Libraries, with a Film by Jeff Preiss and Josiah McElheny, James Cohan, 291 Grand Street, April 17 - June 12, 2021