The Artangel installation Plot by José Damasceno at Holborn Library creates a fascinating story within Sydney Cook’s lovely building, and is also a great opportunity to see the disused auditorium and terraces on the fourth floor. Brazilian artist Damasceno’s intriguing interventions include Letraset-style figures hanging above the reading room, encyclopedias and newspapers cut into Lilliputian footsteps, looping scrolls on the back wall, research materials in the archive room and ‘an archipelago of stage fragments’ on the fourth floor.
Developed from research in London, starting from an illustration from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the installation uses the library as ‘a fertile context for turning mental images into material objects – from mind, to flat surface, to three dimensions – as well as across points in time, a recurrent them in Damasceno’s work’. Whether it is about narrative, the structure of stories, or a drama whose fragments are scattered through the building, it prompts one to look again at the architecture, and provides new perspectives on it.
If you need another excuse to visit, there is currently a free exhibition on the history of the Library in the Local Studies and Archive Centre on the 2nd floor, which includes some great early photographs.
It is such a shame that the Library’s fine auditorium on the fourth floor, with a terrace giving views over the gardens of Gray’s Inn, has been closed for so long – let us hope that the success of this installation will encourage Camden Library to bring it back into use.