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.
This work depicts an infinitely-expansive library that proposes to collect elements, the “building blocks of the world.” The imaginary library reaches into the past and future to encompass a broader scope of what is deemed “elemental,” beyond what appears on today’s periodic table. In particular, the forms in this library center the inhabitants of a library as essential, elemental units. The artist explains, “the most core ‘element’ of Borges’ library is the librarian.” Inspired by the Malic Moulds of Duchamp, the industrial-looking shapes in the library are vaguely figurative, with magically geometric, semi-cylindrical shapes as “heads.” These slender bodies are crowned by Archimedian solids—derived from Platonic solids, which each represent one of the Five Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Ether.
Josiah McElheny, Libraries, with a Film by Jeff Preiss and Josiah McElheny, James Cohan, 291 Grand Street, April 17 - June 12, 2021