News for April 2013

What do you think?

As we are performing in the library and what we are doing is such a spectacle, we decided it was best to not test any more ideas in the actual space so that on the day it becomes a one off vision. However, we did still want to test standing on the chairs for a long period of time and practise sacrificing books.  So, we went to the library and got some unwanted books we could practise with.


Three Different Ways of Destroying Books. Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

We had two audience members come and watch the performance. We wanted some people to see the movements we will be performing, and ensure they understood how we had got to where we have with our performance.  After one hour and forty five minutes, we got down from the chairs and stopped sacrificing the books in our individual ways i.e. scrubbing, pricking and dunking in water.  Visually, our audience seemed to be attracted to the performance as the destroying ways are contrasting when it comes to sound and sight.

Remains of the 'Pricking Method' Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

Remains of the ‘Water Method’ Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13 Remains of the ‘Pricking Method’ Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

The novel Fahrenheit 541 was mentioned in post performance discussion, which presents a future American society where all books are outlawed and firemen burn all houses that contain them. It relates back to this idea of book burning throughout history, which we have looked into over our process. Books such as Darwin’s Origin Of Species have been under ridicule due to religion, which is one of the elements we wanted to put across in our performance. Within Bradbury’s novel ‘books are no longer symbols of technological process –of power and knowledge- but rather of wisdom’1. This gap between religion and fact has been occurring for hundreds of years throughout history and by wearing religion and destroying knowledge we arebringing that to attention.

The novel also mentions this ‘pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed’2 to destroy words, to destroy someone else’s ideas gives this weird pleasure, because you know once it’s destroyed it cannot be put back together. The hardest part of the performance will  be destroying and ripping apart Emile Male’s texts, purely because they are a hundred years old and part of our history. They are extremely hard to get hold of now, especially the copies we have. I guess though that will give our performance the shock value, and really get people thinking about why we are wearing the text.

  1. Bradbury, R. (2004) Fahrenheit 451. (eds.) 5th edition Voyager: London. p62 []
  2. Bradbury, R. Bloom, H. (2006) Fahrenheit 451: Bloom’s Guides. Chelsea House: Pennsylvania. p11 []
Posted: April 30th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Cake Memoirs

‘The social aspect of food along with the inevitable ‘eventness’ of the many rituals surrounding food encounters, makes for an eclectic and dialogical artistic process involving conversations and crossings between the physical, the social, the cultural, the personal, the representational and the pragmatic.’1

This description of Jenny Lawson’s work as an artist describes her performance of ‘Bake me a Cake’ as part of the Compass Festival of Live Art in Leeds in November 2011. In her performance she invites audience members to participate by inviting them to share their favourite recipes for cakes and be a part of the process. This intimate exchange that she divulges into with the audience is incorporating their identities and own memoirs into her performance and thus creating a piece like no other that is unique both socially and culturally.

‘Bake Me a Cake’2

‘Such performance works with memory, raking over enduring ones, stirring half-suppressed ones.’3

Drawing inspiration from this we wanted to make our baking process personal to the people in the library and through this create audience participation even before our performance began. We questioned what random students’ favourite cakes were and why in the library on the 20/3/2013. Through documenting this we were able to bake cakes with participants in mind as well as allowing the sentimental value of the cakes to resonate through our café by quoting their memoirs on a notice board that other audience members could read.

Cake memoirs, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Charlotte Mooney

Cake memoirs, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Charlotte Mooney

We decided the best way to keep our research and process flowing into our final performance was to use multi media performance to project video footage of us recording our baking process onto a wall of the café. The contrast between the live performance of serving the cakes compared to the baking process would hopefully serve as an authentic aspect in showing the final result of the cakes.

‘Baking Process for Pop up Café’4

Word count: 364

  1. Lloyd, Annie (2011) Compass Live Art, Online: (accessed: 28 April 2013) []
  2. Lawson, Jenny (2011) Bake Me a Cake @ Compass, Online: (accessed: 29 April 2013) []
  3. Pearson, Mike (2010) Site-Specific Performance, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 57 []
  4. Alcock, Stephanie (2013) Baking Process for Pop up Café 2013, Online: (accessed 13 May 2013) []

The Right Frame of Mind

Now that we finally have a piece of work that resembles a full performance, we have been able to start considering other elements surrounding our work, such as, how an audience might view it and how we can archive what we are doing. We have attempted to do a couple of ‘dress runs’ of the performance, and this has opened up many new routes that we could take with the finished piece. So naturally, we shall continue to make adjustments to the piece before its final showing.

One question that came up after our preview was: How could we frame our work? The positioning of our piece is very important as we are representing everything that the library is inside, outside.In his book Site Specific Art, Nick Kaye states that “the ‘inside’ of the work is always already penetrated by the outside’ (Kaye 2000, p. 192), therefore choosing the right sort of frame for our work was vital in order to allow the audience to interpret the desired meaning of our piece. Having thought about this, we thought that the perfect place to perform our work would be in front of the construction site of the new extension of the library; after all we would then be deconstructing language in front of the construction of the place that is the centre of language. This could potentially create a very strong image to an audience. In his book Site Specific Art, Nick Kaye states that “the ‘inside’ of the work is always already penetrated by the outside’ (Kaye 2000, p. 192), therefore choosing the right sort of frame for our work was vital in order to allow the audience to interpret the desired meaning of our piece.

Secondly, we began to think about what we could do to “fill the gaps” between our individual readings. This led us to create motifs that were relevant to our personal ‘language breakers’. For example, I am using French to break down the library list, so after my performance I will kiss each individual piece of card that I am holding. This is because if someone were to say the term ‘French kiss’, it would conjure up the typical image that most people have of this phrase, however I am breaking this down by giving each piece of card that has French writing on it a single kiss, therefore challenging the semiotics surrounding the term. Another example is that Hannah holding the book in various different ways. This is to demonstrate the fact that we talk about being able to hold a book in an infinite number of ways, but once again we are unable to truly demonstrate what infinity is, being only human.

Lastly, we decided that we would like to archive our work, and show the progression over the four performances. This is where the idea of the pieces of card that we have written our lists on comes in. We decided that, rather than simply read off A4 pieces of paper on a clip board, we would hand write our lists on small rectangular pieces of cards. The thought process behind this was that when we went to the library in Lincoln town centre, they had thousands and thousands of pieces of card with all their records on archived at the back of the building. This made us think how fantastic it would be to mimic this by creating our own record of our performance, with the pieces of card all marked in our individual way. It would really tie the library into our performance.

The plan now is to do one last run through of our piece before the official performance dates, in order to receive yet more feed back. Hopefully we can create something that people will be able to look back on as part of the library’s history.

Works Cited

Kaye, Nick (2000) Site-specific Art, London and New York: Routledge

Posted: April 28th, 2013
Categories: Library, Taking the Library Outside
Tags: , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

A Perfect Place.

Thinking about creating numerous peices to display on the library shelves, yet again my eyes wandered back to the bookarts website1. I took inspiration from the website and soon realised that the majority of the books I had collected would be made into unreadable book sculptures. This meant that they would keep their individual meaning and beauty locked deep within them all. However, this is not the only exploration that will be made within my exhibit. Through the idea of unreadable books I intend to look at the identity of books and their importance within society. If ‘To make a book is to gain power over objects.’2  then to make a book unreadable is to take that power away from the books, I will not be completely destroying the books, so the power will remain, just not be visible  In the exhibition I will also look into the library’s identity, the library user’s identity and my own identity. I worked out a long list of concepts for exhibitions revolving around these pieces. Some ideas fell by the way as my piece took shape and some took on a greater life, looming large in their importance to the piece.

I had to find the perfect place to display my exhibition. I knew the bookshelf would need meaning, it was really important to me that the book shelf wasn’t just any old shelf, convenient but without relevance. I wandered up and down the isles on each individual floor. I started with the third floor, I felt perhaps the silent nature might lend itself to the vision of an art gallery. However, it was too quiet and I realised that one of the main points of art is to raise discussion. The silence would be a hindrance to the process, discussion would not take place and I wanted my efforts to spark conversation and discussion with people. It wanted my piece to cause sparks of communication and for ideas to be set alight about what the pieces meant to everyone individually. None of the Shelves on this floor spoke to me, and so I moved down a floor. The second floor is where I spend a lot of my time in the library, as this is the floor that holds the Drama books, I lingered around the art books, but it just felt to obvious and predictable. I moved done to the first floor and as I got to the back of this floor it was like I had stumbled across the Holy Grail. As the natural light streamed in through the large glass windows I heard angels singing, not really I just thought it look pretty awesome. The last bookshelf on the 1st floor stands opposite a huge set of glass windows, most windows in the library, excluding around the stairs, are quite small. The huge amount of natural light flooding in makes this bookshelf feel like a different part of the library. Artificial lights are on everywhere in the library to aid the students, making sure we’re not all stumbling around bumping into each other like moles scurrying around our underground mazes. But this shelf didn’t feel artificial; looking out at the people going about their daily business contrasted with library life, I felt a real juxtaposition of energy. There is also a small bench that runs along the window, the perfect place for someone to sit and think, potentially critically, about my work. The library’s architects clearly saw me coming, could they have made it any easier for me!

21/03/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

21/03/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

After inviting Wes to see my proposed exhibition space, he agreed, even though the only meaning behind choosing the shelf was aesthetic, that meaning was enough. We spoke about the shelf it was on and how it would be ignorant to completely ignore the books surrounding my piece. So it was decided another exploration within my exhibition would be about and including the books on the shelf 324.242 – 327.73, Politics and government, Electoral systems, Migration, Colonialism, slavery and emancipation, International relations.




Word Count: 683

Works Cited

Wasserman, Krystyna, (2007), The Book as Art: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Princeton Architectural Press.


  1. []
  2. Wasserman, 2007, pg.12 []
Posted: April 25th, 2013
Categories: Shelved
Comments: No Comments.


<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

This video captures a really visually enticing image for the audience and to a certain extent the outward aesthetic of the piece is really important because the space we are going to work with has four huge panel windows. This means when people walk past our pop up café has to be striking and attractive to make people want to come in and see what ‘The Grain Escape’ is doing.
We as a group want people to look in the window and be shocked at the transformation and be drawn to our café.
The space we have chosen has lots of space but also lots of history attached to this empty space. I have drawn a plan of what people wanted to incorporate into our space and how we want it to look.


drawn by Charlotte Mooney on April 12th.

Contemporary performing artists, such as Lawson, increasingly choose to work either site-specifically or in less culturally coded spaces in order to fully explore the potential of their practice and to extend the boundaries of a given art form or discipline. Thus the opportunity that such a space offers (neutral only in that it declares itself to be neither exclusively a theatre space nor a gallery) enables the broader indices of practice to emerge which, as this project[1]

In the room we want there to be a clear divide between the classes so people who enter the café get a sense of the Marxist concept of ‘Them and uz’. We are going to try and achieve this by having a beautiful front of house café with beautifully decorated tables and cake displays. In contrast to the back of the café that is hidden where we will put the working class people to decorate cakes and move grain. It will be interesting to see if the middle class people have a reaction to the first class treatment and whether the working classes object to being made to work for their cakes.


In the video ‘Let us make cake’ they use a projection to give a good sense of transformation, seeing as the transformation will be extremely visible to the library users we thought it would be interesting to see the transformation of the flour from the grain into the cakes that we have baked (watch in the video below). Looking back at the footage that we collected from our weeks’ worth of cake baking you can see thought-provoking images us working like a factory conveyor belt. There is one shot in particular which is simply icing cakes Lucy is whisking icing and passing it to Steph who is icing onto the cakes and Naomi is decorating, when I was filming this section it seemed apparent to me that they had all very much fallen into a mundane routine, mimicking the monotonous tasks that the working class people in the warehouse would have to carry out.

“Baker’s ‘secrets’ are not only moments of refusal, or moments of ‘privacy in public’, they also perform spaces in which I, in the role of spectator, can bring myself into(the) ‘ play’ as I fill in her gaps with my own stories. Who then is the confessing subject here?”(Heddon)[2]

By allowing the library users to be able to see the footage of us baking cakes for  The Grain Escape it hopefully will make them feel more involved in the process and feel less like a spectator and more fully involved in the experience we will hopefully create.

[1] Jenny Lawson (Reasons for wanting to participate in the Curating Knowledge Project).

Heddon, Deirdre, (2008), Autobiography and Performancep164.

© 2018 Babel. Hosted by University of Lincoln Blogs.