The Reading Room, a project initiated by Book Works in London, Glasgow and Oxford, took form in a series of new commissions by artists and writers on the theme of books, reading a knowledge acquired through reading.
In Susan Brind and Jim Harold’s installation, Mysteries of the Heart, a photograph of an anatomy lecture theatre dominated the gallery, which also housed a series of glass tables etched with texts. The work explored the anatomy lecture theatre as a space where the body is interpreted – where intellectually understanding a knowledge is gained through the physical act of opening and ‘reading’ the body. As with Brind and Harold’s previous collaborations, the work was not solely about the literal, physical or tangible, but explores layers and thresholds of meaning evoked by juxtapositions. The artists, who also work independently, have had collaborative works that have been in exhibitions at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Cambridge Darkroom and as part of Haut Der Stadt, Bremen.
Writers Michael Bracewell, Janice Galloway, and Jackie Kay were commissioned by Book Works to produce new texts describing their idea of ‘the reading room’ as a physical site and a conceptual space. These tests form the basis of the installation in Studio 2 which was developed by the writers in collaboration with Book Works.
Also Part of The Reading Room, the Freud Museum (20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 – 5 minutes walk from Camden Arts Centre), hosted a new work by Susan Hiller, exploring how collections ‘read’, based on her reactions to Freud’s writings and his private collection of art, artefacts, texts and photographs.