Art Metal is an arts organisation begun in 2002 which currently inhabits part of the shell of Edge Hill Station. For this Biennial, rather than provide exhibition space, they're offering a pop-up cafe and a series of lunchtime talks and evening performances around the Biennial's theme. Their website offers some idea of the kinds of activities they're providing. Due to the slightly manic approach I'm taking to the Biennial, I've somehow managed to visit when there aren't any events on, but have the sounds of a rehearsal for tonight's show by Oreet Ashery swirl around me because ....
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... this is the first of these blog entries I'm writing at the venue. On arrival I've been introduced to a library space on the first floor of the building, a gorgeous bare brick room rather like a studio flat, with cushioned benches, a large sculptural book case and the mac I'm typing this into. I've barely used a mac before. It took me five minutes to work out how to cut & paste so I could add the link to Metal's website above. The space is meant to be somewhere for visitors to gather and relax before and after performances.
The book and dvds which a sign says have been lent by friends and colleagues, have been selected to reflect the Biennial's theme. Each of the shelves has a connected subject heading. "Indoctrination", "Psyche","Invasion", "Apocalypse", that sort of thing. While the usability rating would implode, sometimes I wish bookshops and larger libraries would adopt this kind of eclecticism, books grouped around ideas and concepts rather than genre. What's to say a science book about meteorology shouldn't be filed with Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm?
At Metal we find across the categories, Slaughterhouse 5, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Globalization and its Discontents, The Lancashire Witches, Naked Lunch and Dancing with Men from tonight's performer, Ashery. Without posting a complete list, a quick glance suggests that what they have in common is an investigation of the implications of hospitality, of wanting to share ourselves as human beings and our culture and how that has positive and negative outcomes, and how some might not necessarily want to be as hospitable through avoidance.
What would I add to this library? Well, Timon of Athens might be symbolic of how hospitality could become exploitation (which would mean you'd also have to include a dvd of Torchwood's Children of Earth too). Some Jane Austen. No Logo is already here, but how about Mark Stein's How The States Got Their Shapes, which above all else is about accommodation and disagreement, nibbling geographical notches in perfectly square territories, sometimes due to an oscillating attitude to globalisation and isolationism. Now it's time for me to go. I don't want to outstay my welcome.