All the Poetry Books
Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach)
September 16, 2010 – January 23, 2011
Museum of Latin American Art
628 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
For this exhibition, entitled All the Poetry Books, Mexican conceptual artist Jorge Méndez Blake removed the complete section of poetry holdings from various Los Angeles and Long Beach libraries, custom crated their specific, accumulated volumes, and installed these filled crates as temporary sculptures at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) – a new crate, and thus a new library, was introduced monthly throughout the duration of the exhibition. The introduction of each crate was accompanied by a full list of the books contained within, while a series of custom tile arrangements articulate the relationship between the total number of books held at each specific library and the total number of visitors the library receives yearly. This physical and textual archive of each library collection acts as one of the artist’s oblique means of “mapping,” recording their geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic specificity.
It is Méndez Blake’s belief that the library, as an institution, need move away from the idea of being a singular and definitive “volume” of culture and toward an open democratic state where people can interact with, and transform, the way culture and knowledge is accessed. This notion guided the overall project by examining the relationships between literature, art, and a culture-in-flux (and how they function both historically and geographically). Ultimately, Méndez Blake hopes to encourage communities to consider both the frameworks and “containers” that shape our cultural awareness.