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The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember is a new kind of library.

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September 15, 2021, 10:45am

Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember is an archive of materials including vinyls, posters, and paintings drawn from private African collections; among other materials, the collection includes Chiurai’s own personal collection of 1970s-80s vinyl records associated with liberation movements in Southern Africa, recordings of political speeches, and digital recordings from the Freedom Archives. The archive has been exhibited in Harare, Cape Town, Kalmar, Södertälje, and Johannesburg, and will be exhibited in Paris later this year. But when it is, it won’t look the same as it did in Johannesburg: notably, each time the Library is exhibited, Chiurai invites a different librarian to curate it.

The political writing platform Chimurenga curated the Library in Harare; writer and DJ El Corazone curated it in Cape Town; film director Sifiso Khanyile curated it in Johannesburg. By inviting guest librarians to investigate the archive, Chiurai gives the Library a spirit of dynamic inquiry. The Library highlights the conscious acts of curation behind notions of history, and the boundless potential narratives that can be found within a given set of objects. Why just stick to one?

“I consider [The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember] to be itself a form of liberated zone,” Chiurai said in a statement. “It functions independently—I work with different librarians every time there’s an iteration of it, and every guest librarian sees the process of cataloguing differently. Some approach it visually, and others aurally—and so bring to our attention dialogues and ideas forgotten but still very much a part of our present.”

[h/t Kudzanai Chiurai, The Conversation]

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