Library of Unfinished Texts

Damian Martin, Diana (2017) Library of Unfinished Texts. Performance Research, 22 (1). pp. 130-133. ISSN 1352-8165


The Library of Unfinished Texts is a digital library that gathers writing on and about performance, in collaboration with Something Other, a space for writing from, around and about performance. These are: texts that have not yet found their ending, forgotten paragraphs that drifted off, drafts never sent, and notebook scribbles with no home. The Library of Unfinished Texts draws a link between criticism as a mode of thinking, and the library as a site of investigation.

In Against Interpretation (1964), writer and critic Susan Sontag argues for a rethinking of the project of interpretation that allows the appearance, rather than usurping, of a work of art. Appearance, to Sontag, means 'experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself' (1964: 10). Elsewhere, in The Life of the Mind (1971), philosopher Hannah Arendt speaks of thinking as an essential activity of criticism. Sontag and Arendt both offer reflections on two fundamental processes of criticism: thought and interpretation. Where Sontag acknowledges the aesthetic, subjective and material possibilities of interpretation, Arendt examines the blurred boundaries between public and private inherent in our articulation of thought. Library of Unfinished Texts stems from the proposition that, by exposing and unmasking critical writing in-process, we may better understand the relationship between criticism, subjectivity and publicness. In the same manner in which Sontag argues for an unmasking of the work of art within criticism, Library of Unfinished Texts seeks to expose the incomplete, the fractured and the disoriented nature of thought in critical process.

The article positions these reflections alongside extracts and samples of unfinished drafts that led to its making, and from the project itself.

The Institute has no home per se, but it is a London-based project.


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