The following text is a proposal written for the European Capital of Culture 2022 programme in Esch-Alzette, Luxembourg.
It drafts a project seeking to rediscover the library as an participatory place for cultural exchange in times of rising division across the continent.
Our project revolves around the installation of a temporary library filled with recent, philosophical, literary and visual works published in Europe, thus providing a cultural and theoretical framework for dialogue and the exchange of ideas, and is aimed at both international visitors as well as a local public.
All visitors will be able to discuss, read and make use of the books provided. We will be curating the content of the library by collaborating closely with publishers and writers. Our goal is it to create a space that offers a multifaceted perspective on current issues, like socio-cultural-political conflicts and feelings of division within Europe, by giving visitors access to novel and groundbreaking publications of contemporary European thought and visual culture.
By allowing visitors to come into contact with vivid ideas from all around the continent, we are wishing to generate new ideas, and to unify European culture symbolically within this temporary public sphere. We believe that realising such a project in Luxembourg, with its multilingual and multicultural context, would be immensely successful, not only within the parameters of the European Capital of Culture, but also as a longterm solidification of Luxembourg’s position as a place of mediation, as a cultural crossing within Europe.
We hope to offer a comfortable reading room for the visitors located in Belval, Luxembourg, close to the University of Luxembourg, that aims to complement the library for Humanity Studies conceptually.
Visitors will be able to browse the catalogue and read in the room as long as they want. Pen and paper will be provided for visitors to take notes, turning the library reading room into a research space and workshop. We thereby wish to challenge the often economic relationship that we have with the library, a space that could be considered primarily as a service provider or a warehouse filled with possible, commodified knowledge that you can take home, hoard and defer indefinitely.
Inspired by the experience of entering an art exhibition and of having to engage with the displayed works in
a spatial and temporal present, this project seeks to reshape the library into a place that calls for participation. Books will not be sold or borrowed, but are freely available for an immediate engagement with their content. The books will move from hands to hands instead of being transferred from one shelf to another.
If possible, artists presenting their work for the European Capital of Culture are free to use the reading room as a platform for talks, discussions and workshops. We will be contacting publishers and encourage them to donate 2–3 copies of select books and magazines.