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Beijing Barn Bibliotheca

workshop / collaboration 


Averill Park, NY

co-directing at Arts Letters & Numbers


The project grew from careful consideration of the mission and vision of CAFA and the principles driving the “Future Unknown” initiative to move art and innovation forward by building linkages to many educational and cultural locations around the globe.

For this project, we worked with a physical and powerful gesture to capture these principles in the relationships of three key locations: Beijing, New York, and Averill Park. The project began at Arts Letters & Numbers, in Averill Park, NY where we started by covering the entire interior of a barn with paper, making a full-size paper model of the barn inside of itself. Within this ‘paper barn,’ we did a series of exercises bringing together Beijing and New York and the barn by folding these locations into a large group project. Working in the barn, with maps of Beijing and New York through drawing, rubbings, projection, and mapping we created a giant drawing of
these two cities inside of each other. When the drawings were complete, we carefully took the paper down, rolled them up and they were brought to Beijing with the group on their flight home, Barn in a Suitcase! These papers were then un-rolled and re-assembled in Beijing into this new work. They are re-articulated into a new kind of ‘spatial language’, a Beijing Barn Bibliotheca that contains all of the locations.

Our Approach to this project is expressed by together creating a work at Arts Letters & Numbers that is physically brought back to Beijing and transformed into a new work. It is to create a gesture that expresses that Culture is more than information and cultural exchange is more than information sharing. Culture is thick, it is people, it is material, it is stories and it is viscous. Embracing “cultural diversity” as a diversity of “ways of knowing” must include our embodied experiences, our literary and material imaginations, and all of the nuance and imagination of life itself.


text from David Gersten, founder of Arts Letters & Numbers


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