Elliptical Reading Edition£ 100
Abigail Reynolds 2023
250 x 170mm
Edition of 30 signed and numbered in a protective sleeve.
Comprising: Four folded booklets on Munken print white paper each 670 x 500mm; Engineers fold on bible paper 835 x 515mm; Three C-type prints; Three acetate prints.
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This book encapsulates the artwork Elliptical Reading which was commissioned for British Art Show 9 and manifested in four libraries: one in each city of the tour over 2021-22. It is an artwork that activates libraries.
Elliptical Reading creates a regular reading hour in which readers meet in the library over many weeks to share short sections from favourite books, generating an unruly word collage which builds over time. Their books have been re-bound by the artist both to celebrate the book form and the personal choice of each reader, whose hands are embossed onto the cover in place of a title.
Elliptical Reading asks us to consider the value there is in maintaining a shared public space dedicated to reading and communality. It asks what it means to read aloud and to be heard. What it means to share our favourite books, and how our identities are revealed in our choices. Ultimately, it advocates for the local library, one of the few non-commercial public places in the UK. Elliptical Reading recognises the library as a shared space of trust and tolerance and re-imagines it as a light-filled space containing beautiful objects in celebration of a sharing of difference.
The Elliptical Reading book understands the book form as a gathering point; it assembles disparate images and texts that sit together - just as the Elliptical Reading performance did. If the four posters are unfolded and laid flat, they complete a circle together. It is meant to be explored and manipulated in the hand, exaggerating that part of the project focussed on presence, touch, and care.
The texts in the book represent expanding elements of the library - from the book in the hand, to the collection, to the library itself. A text describing or unfolding the project encloses three poster-format folded booklets. Each of the three booklets is preceded by an acetate of reader’s hands, and contains a C-type print taken during BAS9. Also enclosed is a transcript of an Elliptical Reading in Manchester Poetry Library, printed on bible paper and laid out continuously using an 'engineers fold'.