As librarians we often find scraps of ephemera within the pages of the books in the library. Occasionally there will be something of interest, like a drawing or a doodle. Whatever we find it ultimately ends up in recycling, but artist Giacinta Frisillo, has collected these remains in the form of a small archive, which is on show in the library throughout the month of July 2019.
Accompanying the collection is a moving image work displayed on a monitor which shows Frisillo browsing the library shelves, scribbling notes and collecting the remnants of past users. Taking such seemingly frivolous items and confining them to an archive elevates their status to something akin to an historic document. Through this shift in context their purpose, history and connection to the people that have discarded or lost them becomes a point of inquiry.
In the accompanying exhibition text Frisillo writes: Most of what was inside books were slips of paper, GSA Library receipts and other bits, torn or cut, to use as bookmarks. Why were these pages important? What would the information on them do for their readers? Some of what I found was sentimental – a postcard written in German to someone’s dear granny, a “shatterproof” ruler that had been broken. A few things defied my understanding. Why would so many people leave seemingly important notes they’d painstakingly written inside the books they’d borrowed? Why would they make drawings and tags and other personal marks, only to leave them behind without a care?
Who do we think we are leaving our marks?
Being remembered by those who come after us.
Being noticed by those who are now.
Does it make us immortal?
Is it our progeny? Our legacy? Our art?
Is it the promised afterlife we don’t believe in,
but hope for beyond all reasonable doubt?
Leave no trace.
A further record of these items is documented in Remainder, a zine produced by Frisillo and funded by Friends of GSA. It accompanies the archive, but once it is removed, only the zine will remain, itself a form of relic of a past and it too will raise the same questions as the leftovers salvaged from the pages of the books.