CFP 'On Libraries' (Performance Research, Vol. 22, issue 2)

06 March, 2016 by Michael Bachmann | 0 comments

CFP 'On Libraries' (Performance Research, Vol. 22, issue 2)

Call for Proposals: Performance Research, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 2017) 'On Libraries' Proposal Deadline: 25 March 2016 Issue editors: Deirdre Heddon and Misha Myers

Volume 22, Issue 2 - On Libraries

Deadline: 25 March 2016

Recent and ongoing vociferous public response to the threatened – and actioned – closure of public libraries across the UK demonstrates the continued social and cultural value placed on libraries. In spite of unprecedented if still uneven access to information enabled by technology (from ebooks, to enewspapers, to Wikipedia), libraries continue to function as beacons and portals: of and to learning and education, of and to equality of access and opportunity, of and to imagination and other worlds.


Libraries have offered themselves as sites rich for performance: from Forced Entertainment’s Dream’s Winter (1994) andQuarantine’s It’s All About What You Know (2014), both commissioned for Manchester’s Central Library in the UK, to Barking Theatre’s Ex Libris createdwithMelbourne’s Athenaeum Library(2014) in Australia; as well as spaces for playful and political intervention – from Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton’s The Quiet Volume (2011), to the ongoing international equalities project, The Human Library, as well as the Library of Performing Rights; alongside library ‘interventions’, such as Temporary Services’s The Library Project, where 100 mostly artist-books were surreptitiously integrated into Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center’s holdings in the USA.


Today, ‘access’ to books remains a motivating issue, inspiring a host of creative and innovative modes of library transport, from the Biblioburro travelling library in Colombia, to the Elephant Mobile Library in Laos and the book boat in Norway. Architectural interventions that site books in public spaces range from the Little Free Library movement to the Phone Booth Book Exchange and Berlin’s Book Forest. These subcultural installations sit alongside innovative state-managed mobilizations of lending services, including Vending Machine Libraries installed in busy travel hubs – for example, in California, USA and Beijing, China. From 2012, the editors’ Walking Library project has sought to mobilize books by taking them on walks – exploring in the process the relationships of walking to writing and reading.


In this volume, we seek to place the library centre stage, as a site of and for performance: performances in libraries, performances for libraries, performances of libraries, libraries as performances and libraries in performances.


Possible themes

Science, knowledge and dis-play

One story of public libraries is firmly modern; a discourse of liberation through knowledge enabled by the provision of space and materials to facilitate self-education towards good citizenship. Such embrace of free and equal access to informational resource is tempered in that the library emerged as part of modernity’s increasingly bureaucratic and technologized systems, its purpose being to organize and control knowledge.‘On Libraries’ offers a platform for exploring artists’ engagement with and subversion of systems. Artist enterprises, such as The Bristol Art Library (TBAL) in the UK created by the British artist Annabel Other, playfully expand and subvert the structures of library technologies – rules, regulations, policies, bye laws and practices, whilstat the same time restating the nineteenth-century commitment to free access to knowledge enshrined in public libraries.


Performing (in) the library

While the library as an institution is a firmly modern invention, the availability of ‘information’ today places its function and form under scrutiny – and potential threat. What is a library for in the twenty-first century? As libraries become embedded within the wider notion of community centres – sitting alongside the sports facilities, the café, and the theatre – how are its books encouraged to spill beyond their pages? How does performance serve to engage with and enliven the library as public space of and for learning? Performances which expand the library’s walls and democratise knowledge production proliferate, from The Gramophones Theatre Company’s work with Suffolk Libraries (offering a ‘story exchange’ by sharing their stories with library users in return for library users’ stories) to Birmingham REP’s Neighbourhood collaboration with six local libraries that produced Tolkien-inspired ‘audio walks’.


Library materialities

How have e-books changed our ideas, expectations and use of libraries? What will become of the book? How can it be recycled into new forms of expression, such as The Library of Lost Things, a collection of artist-altered books reclaimed from the Library of Birmingham’s skips and curated by Susan Kruse. Alternatively, how do artists remind us of the value of materiality, and the books as a site of exchange? Ellen Bell’s Billet Doux proffers the book as a convivial object. Taking inspiration from the intimacy implicit in the materiality of library books - that they have been held by other people, that they hold memories - she hides anonymous love letters in library books, transforming the pages of books into love nests. How does the personal and kinaesthetic sources of knowledge transmitted through books – the marginalia, hand-written inscriptions and deposited secrets (such as dried flowers, notes on torn pieces of paper) – disappear and/or reappear in new transmedial forms, such as Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso’s print-on-demand paperback 56 Broken Kindle Screens, which contains found photos of broken e-reader screens, attesting to both their impermanence and materiality?


Other possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

·         The library as a site for and of performance

·         Library performances

·         Performers’ libraries

·         Human/Live libraries

·         Library collections/Specialist libraries

·         The performative aspects of libraries (curation, display, categorization and so forth)

·         The art of librarianship       

·         (Re)per/forming the library/performance interventions

·         Politics of libraries

·         Library marginalia

·         Library movements and protests

·         Mobile libraries

·         Libraries on stage

·         Libraries without books

·         Drama, Theatre and Performance Libraries

·         Re-imagined libraries


We welcome proposals for artists’ pages as well as scholarly essays or project ethnographies of up to 6,000 words. We also welcome submissions for a special section of the journal: Personal Libraries. To be considered for inclusion in this section, please submit a visual image or short description of your library’s content and your method of organization (200 words).




Proposals:     25 March 2016        

First drafts:    August 2016

Publication:   April 2017                 


Issue contacts:

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to the PR office:


Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the Issue Editors:



General guidelines for submissions:

• Before submitting a proposal we encourage you to visit our website ( and familiarize yourself with the journal.

•Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or Rich Text Format (RTF)). Proposals should not exceed one A4 side.

•Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.

•If you intend to send images electronically, please contact the Journal first to arrange the best means of doing so.

•Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.


•If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.

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