Poulson has taken peculiarities of technology as a starting point for his residency, with the aim to develop from it an idiosyncratic working method to investigate the library at Chelsea as a physical and dynamic space. Using the underlying motif of an analogue synthesizer, the Roland 303, to explore anti-systemic, intuitive and improvisational working methods. The project asks what ‘knowledge’ might be and how it is communicated.
Exhibiting painting, sound works and objects alongside a series of short films, a collaboration with the filmmaker Ben Owen — which explore improvisational practices well understood by musicians, alongside Poulson’s writing, the show explores a different way of thinking about libraries and archives, beyond fixed static spaces, but as dynamic, emotional spaces, sites of chance or extempore encounters. Poulson is interested in books’ materiality; not in the well explored sense of the printed artifact as a structure to be played with but rather in seeing a book as a solidification of the flux of consciousness, that can be explored through a range of mediums, willfully misunderstood and that resists dissolving into ideas.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a reading room selected from the library’s archives and collections. A live performance drawn from the forthcoming publication commissioned as part of this project is planned for the opening night, with Kit Poulson, Ben Owen and musicians who have contributed to the film.
Poulson has been working with librarian Gustavo Grandal Montero and BA Fine Art and MA Curating and Collections students at Chelsea to produce and curate materials that will be incorporated into a display in the library and the exhibition at CHELSEA space. A new publication with Book Works, supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, will also follow later in 2017.
Mutter is the first of Book Works’ new Library Residencies Programme, which presents a series of residencies and commissions under the title You Must Locate a Fantasy for artists to work with libraries, special collections and archives located across the UK, including London, Hull and Glasgow in 2016–2019. Organised in response to a moment where libraries face uncertain futures yet hold the archives for potential futures, this new project includes an exhibition at CHELSEA space and a publication with Book Works as outcomes to the library residency.
Each of the partner libraries from the library at Chelsea to Glasgow Women’s Library, and Hull’s Central Library have much to offer, and the collections provide a starting point for artists to research and produce something political, poetic, unexpected, or ephemeral that can draw out the unique qualities of the libraries and the artist’s own interests. The librarian or archivist is often key to accessing the rich resources in a library, and the relationships that can be built though projects such as this give artists an opportunity to access and work with collections and promote the unique resources and locations these libraries offer to their audiences and library users.