Veronika Spierenburg’s In Order of Pages presents a compendium of the artist’s many hours of research and reading at the Sitterwerk library. The Sitterwerk art library is part of a collection of enterprises including a foundry, material archive, studio and photography printer located in a narrow valley outside the city of St. Gallen. The library originated with the bequest of Daniel Rohner, a passionate collector of books, and has since grown. Today the library operates a very particular system: each book is fitted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and is digitally tracked; as a result it has no fixed location on the shelves, but can circulate and still be found. This system was created in light of Rohner’s interest in the associative connections generated by chance, random meetings of books in a library. The RFID system and the ensuing movement of books enables spontaneous creativity in the finding and sharing of volumes and information, as users can generate collections of books and the different constellations in which each volume has appeared can also be tracked.
Since 2010 Spierenburg has been a regular visitor to the Sitterwerk library; in this time she has created her own inventory of it. She moved through the 25,000 volumes, taking each she encountered in her hands and scanning more than 3,000 pages that corresponded to her interests. This publication reproduces a selection of about 450 of these copies made by Spierenburg in collaboration with graphic designer Simone Koller. Each page retains the pagination from its original source; thus the book begins densely, but has occasional lacunae as it becomes longer. Spierenburg’s selection illustrates some of the range of the library, which covers art history, exhibition documentation, art and craft materials and fabrication techniques. Diagrams meet diagrammatic artworks and vernacular forms meet avant-garde artists. There are images of nature, of artists’ ephemera and of architecture. There is visual coherence across diverse subjects, such as when striped parquet designs from 1950s Germany meet a layered felt sculpture by Robert Morris from 1967 and 1970; elsewhere a curved theatre interior echoes the curve of a bell jar in a work by James Lee Byars. And there are jarring contrasts too, when, for instance, Sarah Lucas’ Concrete Bladder Ball of 2002 faces opulent Cartier jewels on a page from a Christies auction catalogue. In Order of Pages does not follow a conceptual logic, but is a personal, subjective selection of images. An earlier version of the project would have designed visual or thematic associations, but the eventual organisation by pagination emerged from the artist’s recognition that readers find connections in any combination of images. Spierenburg has explored the potential of the library and its modus operandi; she fixes just some of these meetings of subjects and images within the intimate confines of a new book.
Veronika Spierenburg (born 1981 in Switzerland) has a BA in Photography from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and a MFA from Central Saint Martins College, London. She has had solo exhibitions in Zurich, London, Helsinki and New York, has been awarded artist’s prizes several times by the Canton of Aargau and she is the winner of the Manor Kunstpreis 2014. Since 2012 she has been a member of the City of Zurich’s Art Commission. is her first publication with Kodoji Press.