The Library of Unread Books
If you have a book that you have not read, donate it to us,
and someone else will read it for you.
Each book in The Library of Unread Books was previously owned as private property, and someone has decided to give up that exclusive status with the book and donate it into this common pool.
By receiving and revealing that which people choose not to read, The Library of Unread Books is a collective gesture that addresses the distribution, access, and surplus of knowledge.
This library brings to light these once-hidden-away titles to emphasise shared knowledge. The books, which are accessible to anyone who can visit the library sites, work to create a commons.
Umberto Eco famously called for an “antilibrary” of unread books. The novelist and scholar claimed that unread books are far more valuable than read ones and that a library should contain as much of what one does not know as finances might allow.
The Library of Unread Books is a travelling public reference library hosted within art spaces and museums around the world. It has surfaced in cities such as Manila, Utrecht, Milan, Prague, Dubai and Singapore.
We insist that our library functions like an epiphyte that grows on the surfaces of other institutions. We hope that it will seduce these institutions into dreaming of producing a common space for people to gather, common tools for people to utilise, and ways of working that don’t exhaust common resources and in turn, exhaust the possibility of community.
About the Artists
Heman Chong is an artist whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations and writing. His practice can be read as an imagining, interrogation and sometimes intervention into infrastructure as an everyday medium of politics.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at STPI, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Weserburg Museum, Jameel Arts Center, Swiss Institute New York, Art in General, Artsonje Center, Rockbund Art Museum, South London Gallery, NUS Museum, amongst many others.
Renée Staal is a Singapore-based Collection Manager and Registrar. She has worked at art institutions and architecture practices in Singapore, The Netherlands and the United States. She has contributed to numerous artist-run projects and co-founded The Library of Unread Books with Heman Chong in 2016.
Inspirations from the Southeast — Penang, Malaysia
Date: 22 & 23 July 2023
Time: 2.00pm & 5.00pm
Venue: GSC Cinema, Gurney Plaza
Inspirations from the Southeast is a captivating documentary series featuring places in Southeast Asia, the region in the south of Taiwan. By blending the old with the new, the documentary captures the wisdom of Southeast Asia countries and their histories, providing insight into the significance of preserving one’s own culture. The current screening focuses on Penang, Malaysia, with an exposition on the city makers of George Town. As a UNESCO World Heritage city, the residents of George Town aim to make their city a living heritage. Whether it’s the stained walls of the street houses, the smells of various spices in the market, or the sound of the Songkok maker paddling the sewing machine, these essential historical and cultural elements of Penang are making the old city new. By portraying the stories of the living heritage, the documentary offers perspectives on everyday life and how city makers continuously shape and transform our experiences of tangible and intangible heritage within the city.