• Introduction: Elsebeth Jørgensen
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  • Second Home

    Photo serie. 2001. 4 C-prints (40×30cm) selected from 30 photographs.

    The ways books in secondhand-shops are organized have always fascinated me. Here often retired people take care of the books and sell them for low prizes. You can think about these bookspaces which only exist because someone else has been sorting out a home library. That someone has considered the books having value for other people. Even though it’s often not very highly valued books. The books are often trashed from travel reading or almost untouched, because they have been more used as exhibition-objects in private homes than for reading.
    In the secondhand-shop books collide with all the other objects in the space. It establishes a kind of Wunderkammer-atmosphere. While browsing through the shelves you’ll find different kind of trivial literature, lexica from private home libraries etc.. But in between you might also find more valued books. It’s possible to be surprised because you browse through a system without a specific fixed official classification system.

    Elderly people handle the books with a special care and I noticed a certain idiosyncratic system. The bookshelves are organized upon the principles of strange juxtapositions, personal associations and visual rules. I once read about the research library of the German cultural historian Aby Warburg. And I got fascinated about his way of thinking an idiosyncratic system for organizing his book collection. He called this “The Law of the Good Neighbor”. He thought it should be possible for visitors to find books that they didn’t imagine or have forgotten existed - next to the one they were looking for. I sometimes think about Warburs system while browsing in these secondhand bookshelves. The question is how books are valued and organized in different spaces of different reasons. The booklover/reader meets those second home systems for books in the activity of looking for books. Home libraries are unpacked, fragmented and transformed. Books change constantly hands. A collective memory is constructed while we are browsing bookshelves, reading and re-organizing books from former private libraries.