James Cohan is pleased to present Libraries, an exhibition of new work by Josiah McElheny that will be featured alongside a collaborative film by the artist and filmmaker Jeff Preiss, on view from April 17 through June 12 at 291 Grand Street. This is McElheny’s second solo exhibition at James Cohan. Appointments are recommended but not required.
To explore the exhibition in our Viewing Room, please click here.
In Libraries, McElheny continues his ongoing investigation of ways that concepts of “the infinite” have been translated throughout history into images, and how these pictorial structures connect to societal values of diversity, individuality and interconnectedness. The formal and conceptual beginnings of this exhibition are found in the vast, hexagonal library described by Jorge Luis Borges in his famous short story The Library of Babel. For McElheny, this exhibition’s interpretation of Borges’ library is a response, in part, to recent concerns about the fragmentation of information within contexts such as education and politics. He suggests, “Maybe it’s not that truth is malleable, but rather it’s that knowledge is expandable. And there are also so many kinds of knowledge, new types that we have never even looked for—that’s where possibility lies.”
For this exhibition, McElheny has altered the existing architecture of the Lower East Side gallery to echo the hexagonal structures described by Borges. Installed across the walls within the space are six elegant, glazed wood frames that each provide a window into interior, mirrored spaces that create an effect of limitless expansiveness “behind and beyond” the surface of the wall.
Libraries is accompanied by audio recordings of Jorge Luis Borges’ "The Library of Babel," read for you by author and translator Susan Bernofsky, and also of Borges’ poem "Mirrors," read by poet Pamela Sneed.