Unpacking My Library considers the act of collecting. Utilising twentieth-century media theorist Walter Benjamin’s text of the same title as a point of departure, Unpacking My Library seeks out expanded approaches to collecting. Like Benjamin’s text, the exhibition takes interest in the process of collecting, as much as the content of a collection. Reflecting on his own library, Benjamin draws upon his obsession with collecting books in order to unpack the psychological drives of the collector. He argues that in a detailed collection certain traits of the collector will be revealed. His invitation into his unpacked library is an invitation to enter a collector’s mind – to dwell upon what the order and disorder of collections reveals about their gatherers.
The exhibition presents both artists who actively explore collecting as a daily practice and artists who reflect on pre-existing systems of collating and organising objects. Firmly rooted in this former investigation is London based artist Elizabeth McAlpine whose ongoing project Found Time: Big Ben attempts to represent every minute of a twelve hour period through existing postcards of Big Ben. Works that analyse pre-existing collections include Ann Shelton’s studies of the Fredrick Butler Archive, Neil Pardington’s analysis of public art gallery collections and The Estate of L. Budd as a self-reflective archive, which appropriates the language and the rhetoric of institutional models. For the first time the entire contents of The Estate of L. Budd will be housed in a single gallery which will become a storeroom for a collection still approaching completion.
→ Media release – Unpacking My Library and Jeremy Leatinu’u, 2010
→ Exhibition poster – Unpacking My Library, 2010