Arts & Culture

Never-Read Books Make up Installation at College Museum

College of Saint Benilde's Museum of Contemporary Art and Design seeks to encourage an exchange of ideas and sought to bring in select shows outside the university.
IMAGE COURTESY NTU CCA SINGAPOREAN/ HEMAN CHONG AND RENEE STAAL. "THE LIBRARY OF UNREAD BOOKS" (ONGOING). "RESIDENCIES OPEN" (NOVEMBER 21), RESIDENCIES STUDIOS. SINGAPORE
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In presenting an exhibition outside the confines of its home university, the College of Saint Benilde’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design seeks to broaden its audience, encourage the exchange of ideas, and develop support for the artistic process. The entity set up to achieve these goals, MCAD Commons, has selected the show “Library of Unread Books,” being held at the First United Building in Escolta, to kick off the exhibition program. The eye-opening installation is a collaborative work by Heman Chong of Singapore and Renee Staal from the Netherlands, and is entirely composed of donated books—all of them unread by their previous owners. The project, conceptualized when Chong was the artist-in-residence at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore, is said to be inspired by the artist’s “deep-seated longing” for books.


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Heman Chong and Renee Staal's Library of Unread Books, at its first installation venue, the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore.

The first viewing of the installation took place late last year in Singapore. A few months before the show opened, Chong posted this message on Facebook: “Allow your #sad, #neglected #volumes to take on a #newlife with #us! We are now #home to hundreds of #rescued #tomes from #dusty #shelves. #Share what you don’t #need with #someoneelse who might!” In cataloguing the books that were received, Chong and Stall, who is billed as the show’s “Chief Librarian,” began to trace “the perimeters of unwanted knowledge.”

On display on the shelves are volumes that were unread and unappreciated by their original donors, all making you wonder about the reasons why. The show is open to the public, on one condition: to receive a “lifetime membership” to the library, a donation of one unread book is required. Runs until August 26 (closed on Mondays), 5th Floor, First United Building, 413 Escolta Street, Binondo; MCAD, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts Campus, Dominga Street, Malate, 230.5100 loc 3897; [email protected].

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This story was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Town&Country.

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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