part of the ongoing series summer library
Book of You
with sound by Christian Huygen
February 3, 2023 to
June 3, 2023
February 18, 2023, 1-3pm
Closing Reception and Summer Party:
June 3, 2023
See full details about the Summer Library project, including other Librarians' work, here.
Book of You
That a book frequently acts as a mirror of the reader is a commonplace, as is an opposite thought, that books change a person. One both finds oneself in what one reads, as well as discovering different selves in different books.
A free library, even a little one, has, by definition, a host of different world views to discover and, hence, in every book we read, we will find a different version of ourselves, often an identity in process, in motion.
I have found that books act like mirrors, sometimes reflecting what is already there, sometimes distorting the image. People may discover goals or directions for becoming, as well as warnings against self-distortion. If you dare to open a book, you risk seeing a reflection of yourself along a continuum anywhere from idealized through attuned to reality through the grotesque.
"Book of You" centers on a desk-like table covered with books, against a wall covered in mirrors. Some of the books' subjects deal with identity or change, some contain actual mirrors embedded into the text, making literal that we "see ourselves" in the books we read.
Materials for the creation of visual or written self-portraits, (colored pencils, paper, watercolors and brushes), are also on the table, and guest are encouraged to find themselves, some version of themselves, in the books and mirrors. If they like, they can take their portraits with them, or leave them or photographs of them, to become part of the display.
A series of self-portraits by Christopher Murray done in a sketch book are in small frames around the wall. These are often grotesque self-images, the artist seeing himself and his identity as plastic. He can be a prince or a monster and, frankly, monsters are more fun.
In aural accompaniment to the "Book of You" installation, synthesizer artist Christian Huygen will create a recorded soundscape of sonic reverie. The soundscape is a self-portrait, embodying the continuum from grotesque to idealized self-representations.
"How do I look?" and "How does that sound?' are implicit self-referential phrases as koans for, as Huygen says "an aspect of the internal murmur of autobiographical memory. We're always holding up idealized and grotesque self representations to ourselves, and we often ask, overtly or not, 'How does that sound?"
Christopher Murray is a multidisciplinary artist and writer who splits his time between Manhattan's Upper West Side and Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square. His drawings are part of Visual AIDS' current web gallery CRISIS RELIEF, curated by Sur Rodney (Sur). His short film Soneto Veintenueve was screened over the summer at Chelsea's School of Visual Arts Theatre in New York. He is working on a series of short videos retelling the fairy tale Hansel & Gretel from the perspective of objects in the story like the Witch's oven and the Woodsman's ax.
He is a longtime Contributing Writer to NYC's Gay City News. His arts journalism has appeared frequently in the New York Observer. His poetry has been in Windy City Times, Bloom, Art & Understanding and his poem I Got Beat Up A Lot In High School was selected for inclusion in a language arts textbook, taught to the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy and chosen for NPR's the Writer's Voice and read by Garrison Keillor. He was chosen as a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow for The Future of New York City at Columbia University in 2012. He is also a psychotherapist in private practice. His is proud to be acting as a guest co-curator of Zulu Padilla's show May The Neotropical Arise at Street Road Artists Space.
Christian Huygen is a clinical psychologist and sound artist. He studied electronic music, Javanese gamelan, literature and psychology at Oberlin College. At the New School for Social Research he did graduate research in autobiographical memory in changing social contexts, and processes of social remembering.
In addition to his work as a psychologist, Dr. Huygen produces electronic music under the name Ouroboral, based on systems of recursive feedback of audio and control voltages. His audio component of the installation "The Book of You" resonates with internal and external discourses of remembering, the oscillation between self idealization and self criticism, the multiple layers of time and timescale (from rapid and automatic, to fragmented, to the layers of murmuring background textures that form the warp and weft of our multivoiced internal monologues), and the continual construction and reconstruction of the discursive self.
For further listening, visit Esoteric Music Machines.