The End(s) of the Library


©David Horvitz

The End(s) of the Library is a series of commissioned exhibitions and a discursive program with Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström & R. Lyon, David Horvitz, Christian Philipp Müller, and The Serving Library taking place at the Goethe-Institut New York Library for a period of eight months. The contributors will address how previous library configurations have given way to new forms and revised values in the digital age, emphasizing the fact that the library is neither a monolithic system nor an abandoned utopia, but an ever-contested site demanding new readings of its organizational frameworks: an institution whose ends are without end.

The End(s) of the Library situates itself at a moment when libraries are experiencing a profound paradigm shift. Historically, the library has positioned itself as a physical site to collectively exchange books, an alternative to market-based systems, as well as a heterotopic social space preserved for the public good. Yet with the rise of digital distribution, experience-driven information providers, and evolving notions of the public sphere, libraries face new questions about their identities. Rather than idealize the library in crisis by offering a nostalgic look at its past or recuperative speculation about its future, the invited artists propose a number of divergent positions from within the library, showing it to be a site of infinite invention.

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