A Room of One’s Own/One Thousand Libraries. By Kajsa Dahlberg. Kajsa Dahlberg, 2006. 128pp., 11,4x17,2cm. Limited edition of 1000 copies.
I saw The Moderna Exhibition at Moderna Museet Stockholm in 2010 where the loose pages of this book was exhibited, and I must say I was a bit ambivalent to the work at the time.
I recently came across the bound artist book, which gave me a chance to think about the work again. I'm still ambivalent, but I'm interested in my own reactions (I always have a really hard time being ok with people writing in or earmarking books, especially library books) and I do very much respect the artist's underlying thought-process behind the work.
" 'A Room of One’s Own/One Thousand Libraries' [or 'Ett eget rum/Tusen bibliotek'] is the title of Kajsa Dahlberg’s work, a variation on Virginia Woolf’s feminist classic from 1929, translated into Swedish by Jane Lundblad in 1958.
While working on this piece, Dahlberg borrowed and leafed through every copy of the book that was available in Swedish libraries, studying and copying the comments and under-linings that readers had made in these public copies.
The result is a new version, with manually transcribed reader comments from nearly fifty years of Swedish history.
In this exhibition, Dahlberg presents the 121 loose original sheets, which she has had printed and bound as an artist’s book in 1,000 copies.
Many of these are now in Swedish libraries. Thus, the work is both an intervention in the library structure and classification system, and a processing of reader interventions in a particular book.
The relationship between private and public property is central to this work. It also constitutes an analogy to Woolf’s call for female representation in the history of literature. Further complexity is added by the fact that Dahlberg puts her signature on Woolf’s text and complements it with the traces of the readings of those who have borrowed the book.
Thus, she draws attention to the importance of reading, that reception and interpretation are integral to an authorship.
'A Room of One’s Own/One Thousand Libraries' inscribes itself in the tradition that explores the theme of the potential of the self to attain some form of freedom, both in relation to the narratives of others and to economic systems."