The first in a series of experiments on the intersection of joyous experience and public space, the Library of Joy is inspired by the “Portraits of an Ingenious Gentleman” project by the artist Boethius, who placed over 400 unique paintings on pages taken from Don Quixote into books in San Francisco’s used bookstores, there to be discovered and taken home by casual readers. The experience of discovering one of these pages was such a profound joy that we thought we’d take it one step further, both in homage and in gratitude.
To begin, the Library of Joy project will solicit text through several different social media channels, including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, with the simple prompt “Please describe a moment you experienced joy.” Fifty of the responses will form the base texts for the next phase: the assemblage of a library of artist books. The books themselves will be ordinary hardbacks, found in bargain bins for $2 or less; their text block will be cut out and replaced with a unique collage inspired by and illustrative of one of the solicited texts. The dust jacket of each book will also be collaged, with “The Museum of Joy” on the spine, the original base text about joy on the inner flap, and a short blurb about the project with a QR code, a thank-you to the Awesome Foundation (and to Boethius), an encouragement to finders to reshare their discovery, and a text link to the project website on the back.
The books will then be replaced in bargain bins with the $2 sticker still on the front, to be discovered and delighted over by unsuspecting book-browsers. Ideally, the Library of Joy will reach beyond bookstores, and volumes will wind up in any laundromat, café, or waiting area with a casual take-a-book-leave-a-book-style bookshelf.
The Museum of Joy hopes to push the boundaries of the joy we can expect in public spaces by simultaneously evoking, celebrating, and disseminating joyous experience through the Library of Joy project.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (October 2013)