Thursday, July 5, 2007

What is the Unread Book Project?

The Unread Book Project is conceptual installation/performance piece which was conceived as a result of my almost uncontrollable desire to buy books.

The Unread Book Project is a response to my unrelenting habit of walking into the bookstore, almost always buying a book or books, bringing them home, and ultimately watching them accumulate throughout my apartment – UNREAD. The reasons that I bought all these books were varied. Sometimes I bought a book because I was having a bad day. Other times, I bought a book because I thought it would make me more intelligent. Maybe I bought a book because I liked the feel of the pages. The act of buying books has always been a hopeful one. There is possibility in a new book.

The flipside of this is accumulating unread books. Unread books represent failure for me. There is the failure to read the books, the failure to spend my money wisely, the failure of laziness (making the choice to channel surf instead of opening one of these books), and ultimately the failure of understanding my interests and desires. I wanted to understand what drove myself and other people to collect a library of unread books and thus began the Unread Book Project.

This project debuted at the Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland, CA on August 3, 2007 as part of an exhibition entitled "Reading, Not Reading, Coffee, and Theories" with Mary V. Marsh.

The piece consisted of several different parts which included a modest library of unread books on display that I have received from friends and acquaintances to seed this project.

In addition, I had the stories from each of the unread books on display in the gallery. These stories were volunteered by the participants and they answered two questions:

1. How was the book obtained?

2. Why has it remained unread?

During the course of the exhibition, I checked in unread books that might be brought into the gallery space. Gallery visitors who brought an unread book also perused the library collection and could exchange their unread book for a book in the library.