The Library as Incubator Project is pleased to feature the work of Christina Mitrense. She is a multidisciplinary artist who shows her drawing, print, and installation work all over the world. – Laura

Concerned with certain esoteric qualities of cultural construction, Mitrense uses manifold processes of drawing, print, site-specific installation, vintage book sculpture and conceptual appropriation. One of her most provocative and celebrated exhibitions was ‘The Secret School’ (2005) based on the Greek myth/discourse was demonstrated as a site-specific installation housed at a WWII bomb shelter in Islington, just before the London bombings of 2005.

“Metalibrary” installation by Christina Mitrentse.

In a globalised environment increasingly dominated by digitization, e-learning and anti-education, Mitrentse’s projects Building My Library and Add To My Library (2008-ongoing), allude to non-normalised institutions that are designed to provoke changes in the function of the material book – de-institutionalising it in the process. Destroyed, twisted and defaced atlases, popular novels, and academic textbooks have formed her artistic identity over the last 15 years. They are dialectically related to the book practices of renowned British artist John Latham, and Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Unpacking my Library’ among other reference points.

The University of Barcelona’s Library of Philosophy, History & Geography hosts Mitrentse’s Add To My Library Vol. III until May 2012. The exhibition is curated by Christina Grammatikopoulou of Interartive Magazine.

Add To My Library  is an on-going international art book project initiative, created using online bibliographic data flow that compiles favorite book titles/authors selected by international specialists and celebrities from the art world, (i.e museologists, curators, artists, writers, publishers etc), each one adding to an infinitive library – the contents of which are determined by its users.

"Emblem" by Christina Mitrentse

“Emblem” by Christina Mitrentse

These book proposals then become the literal building blocks of symbolic institutions depicted in print editions, drawings, or in physical interactive installations. They form a critique on the book as sacred object and site of subjectivity. Mitrentse creates series of large-scale drawings that depict books as the building blocks of idiosyncratic institutions, print editions and sculptures. Pieces like ‘Stonehenge’, ‘WWW’, ‘New Tate’, ‘Emblem’ and ‘Ruins I’ all confirm Joseph Beuys’s proposition that drawing is “a special kind of thought”, and in this instance one where historicity is compressed, and its iconic edifices are left hanging. 

What can libraries do to serve artists like you?

Organise projects and fund the artists with commissioning site specific artworks and workshops for adults from their community.

What would your ideal library look like?

An infinite idiosyncratic library like Add To My Library. Envisaged as an infinite, online reference library for use by both local and the global  community, the project has so far positively attracted over 200 international participants from as far afield as China. A personal, cultural and social history of our times, it is intended that ultimately the library will be an invaluable and essential aid to academic research and personal inquisitiveness through the dedicated Bibliographic Data Flow printed publication volumes.  For more information, please click here: http://christinamitrentse.net/art/?page_id=1703

What resources and services do you use in your library?

I visit libraries for inspiration, searching on digital catalogues but mostly visual, looking at the structure of the books and the structure of these institutions. Researching books is a different story.

Have you shown your work in a library?

I work with booksellers and bookshops and independent  galleries. I have done interventions /left my ‘wounded books’ sculptures in between the libraries shelves  for people to find them. These books have been shot with bullets, and are a part of my sculpture collection /contributed books by other artists/writers.

A forthcoming show/performance and talk at The Library of Philosophy at University of Barcelona will include some of these contributions and interventions, as well as recorded interactions with academics and students.

My next project after that will be in London at Westminister Reference Library with an exhibition of drawings, sculptures and an intervention.

Christina Mitrentse is an international multidisciplinary artist, curator and educator based in London. She has exhibited extensively in galleries, museums and public spaces including Liverpool Biennial UK,XV Biennale de Mediterranean Thess/niki-Rome, ICA London, NDSM-werf Amsterdam, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Mitte gallery Barcelona, Royal Academy UK. Her work has been profiled and reviewed in major publications including AN Magazine, Frieze and InteraRtive and has been acquired by private & public collections including Greenwich Council, The Women’s Library Goldsmiths, Bank Street Arts Centre, Sill Library Bath, Tate Archive, Penguin Collectors Society, Griechische Kultustiftung Berlin, M. Altenman NY, Onassis Foundation, Beltios Collection, Benaki Museum N.Alexiou and E.Venizelos Airport Athens.

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