November 23, 2017 - Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons - Dora Garía and Ingo Niermann: Army of Love / Heman Chong and Renée Staal: The Library of Unread Books
November 23, 2017

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons

Design: David Bennewith ( with Bram van der Berg.

Dora Garía and Ingo Niermann: Army of Love
Heman Chong and Renée Staal: The Library of Unread Books
November 26, 2017–February 25, 2018

Opening: November 25, 12–3pm, including a performance by Heman Chong and a conversation facilitated by Prof. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Lange Nieuwstraat 7
3512 PA Utrecht
The Netherlands
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We are excited to share two projects and presentations at Casco this fall/winter season: Army of Love with artist Dora García and writer Ingo Niermann and The Library of Unread Books by artist Heman Chong and producer and librarian Renée Staal. Both Army of Love and The Library of Unread Books deal with access, excess, and the politics of distribution, which make up some of the core debates for the practice of the commons. The Library of Unread Books is concerned with redistribution, wherein excess knowledge is intentionally organized into a common resource pool. Army of Love engages in a kind of “predistribution,” meaning that they want to stave off inequality at its outset. They do this by striving for a common language and practice of love. 

Army of Love with Dora García and Ingo Niermann
The project-cum-supergroup Army of Love, initiated by Ingo Niermann and further developed by Dora García, aims for intimate fulfillment of justice in the face of patriarchy, racism, and neoliberal, corporo-fascism. “Love soldiers” strive to share all-encompassing love with those who need it, and they are ready to receive love from those who want to give it. The Army provokes the possibility to think about and discuss love as a resource, and examine its conditions and exchange.

The Army of Love exhibition at Casco continues the trajectory of inquiry of the novel Solution 257: Complete Love by Ingo Niermann, the Army of Love promotional film by Niermann and Alexa Karolinski, and the various performative interventions since. But it marks a new iteration of the project in its two-year journey. The exhibition includes new Army of Love documentary films that follow two major gatherings held in 2017: the Army of Love training camp organized with Casco, and the program “Lo Inadecuado & Su Laboratorio del Amor: Army of Love & Asistencia Sexual, the Touching Community, Yes, We Fuck!, Postporno & Diversidad Funcional” hosted by García via the Independent Studies Programme, MACBA (Barcelona, Spain). Furniture is designed by García in collaboration with the architect Olga Subirós and material contributed by Army of Love training camp participants.

If the Army sees itself as in a constant state of formation, it also provides a solid framework for discussion and debate around common understandings of love and practices for it. The exhibition itself presents an occasion for deeper understanding about the Army of Love, in this instance through the influences of Casco, García, Niermann, camp participants, and others.  Through group debates and exercises, the documents capture the curiosity and convictions that the Army of Love project and it’s enthusiasts incite, and reveal a sense of camaraderie and duty that is required to recondition one’s understanding of love within and beyond personal choice and structural limitations. Oscillating between reality and fiction, the ideal and the impossible, Army of Love becomes a platform where we can consider how to expand our spectrum of desire, and how to address loss and healing as part of our political struggle. 

The Library of Unread Books by Heman Chong and Renée Staal
With over 500 titles, The Library of Unread Books is a living reference library that traces the perimeters of excess knowledge. Every single book you find in the collection was once private property and has been donated by an individual who did not read it when it was in their possession. Contributors to the growing mobile library receive a personalized library card and a lifetime membership. The Library of Unread Books brings to light these once-hidden-away titles to emphasize shared knowledge. The books, which are accessible to anyone who can visit the library sites, work to create a commons.

Reminding us that a (private) library is both a means to an end and a research tool rather than an accessory, Umberto Eco famously called for an “antilibrary” made up of unread books. The novelist and scholar argued that read books are far less valuable than the unread ones and that a library should contain as much of what one does not know as finance might allow. “You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly.” In the case of this library of unread books, access to knowledge is not contingent on finance, and so the books are reverted back to a common resource pool.

The books of The Library of Unread Books are arranged randomly and in stacks, in a setting that encourages visitors to feel at home and re-arrange the books according to will and desire. The library is open during exhibition hours, Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 to 18:00, where an onsite librarian is available to introduce the collection and receive donations. If you have any questions about the project-exhibition, please don’t hesitate to contact us at publications [​at​]

Please come by and read an unread book. If you have one, please donate it to the library. Someone else will read it for you.

Possibility Room

In addition to these two presentations, we have created an interchangeable and flexible space titled the Possibility Room, a name borrowed from the National Library in Singapore, that will serve as a hosting space for various activities and gatherings arranged alongside The Library of Unread Books.

The two projects mark the end of our transition period from Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory to Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons.

Follow the Casco website or follow us on social media for forthcoming details about the public program for Army of Love and The Library of Unread Books.

—Staci Bu Shea and Yolande van der Heide with Binna Choi, Svenja Engels, Niek van der Meer, and Marianna Takou

Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons
Share - Dora Garía and Ingo Niermann
Army of Love
Heman Chong and Renée Staal
The Library of Unread Books
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