In collaboration with Lofoten International Art Festival we are delighted to present Retyping a Library, a solo exhibition by Kenneth Goldsmith. Curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, artistic directors of LIAF 2022, and Anne Hilde Neset, director of Kunstnernes Hus, the exhibition presents a new commission by the American artist and writer.
About the exhibition
Retyping a Library is a monumental new intervention by Kenneth Goldsmith for the gallery on the ground floor of Kunstnernes Hus. At the centre of the exhibition space, more than 200 boxes are arranged to form a cube that resembles a minimalist sculpture. Inside each box there is a manuscript on onionskin paper that bears witness to the titanic task the artist has set himself: to copy all the volumes in his library with a typewriter.
Retyping a Library could either be a stoical exercise in attention or a well-conceived scam. It is certainly a celebration of literature and the daily work it takes to produce it. This is how the artist describes the birth of the artwork:
"In 2002, I began retyping my library. It was during the heyday of file-sharing and copying was everything. It seemed to me that things only had value if they existed in multiples; politically and socially I felt that if everyone couldn't have something, then it had no value. So in 2002, I sat down and retyped Moby Dick. Cut to lockdown. I often found myself sitting alone in the studio. And at those moments, my mind began to drift back to 2002; what if the retyping my library project had gone in another direction? What if I started it up again, letting it evolve into a hybrid project, one in which literature fused with visual art?"
Retyping a Library ties in with the practice of uncreative writing that Goldsmith theorised and implemented through radical copy-paste in projects such as Day (2003), Printing Out the Internet (2013), and The Hillary Clinton Emails (2019). In the display cases scattered throughout the exhibition space at Kunstnernes Hus, each copied book is additionally associated with a portrait of its author drawn by Goldsmith himself. The potentially infinite replicability of the copy thus enters into dialogue with an artefact of absolute singularity, highlighting the hand behind the activity of appropriation and rewriting. The same dialectic is exhibited on the walls of the room, where more than 200 signatures of the authors are printed on paper to form a grid stretching from the floor to the ceiling.
The library ranges from authors like Theodor Adorno to Unica Zürn, via Lydia Cabrera, Hélène Cixous, Karl Ove Knausgård, Léopold Sėdar Senghor, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, to Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, and many more.
Download the exhibition catalogue:
About the artist
Kenneth Goldsmith (b. 1961) is an American author, poet and artist. He has published ten poetry books and several essays, including Wasting Time on The Internet (2016) and Duchamp Is My Lawyer: The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb (2020) about his large digital archive of avant-garde art, UbuWeb.
In 2013, Goldsmith presented the exhibition Printing Out the Internet at the Labor Gallery in Mexico, where he filled a room with ten tons of paper in honour of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. In 2019, he exhibited HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails at the Venice Biennale, where he printed all 62,000 pages of Clinton's controversial emails.
We thank the Italian Council for supporting this exhibition and Sparebankstiftelsen DNB for supporting our summer exhibitions.