Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book (Grand Lobby), Photographs by Elizabeth Felicella

September 26, 2013 - February 28, 2014
Central Library, Grand Lobby
This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the Library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future, giving patrons a new perspective on a familiar place.

New photography produced by Brooklyn Public Library’s first artist-in-residence, Elizabeth Felicella, exploring the Library archive, with particular attention to its Central Library holdings.

Unique in its development, Brooklyn Public Library began life as a library system devoted to the creation of strong branch libraries emphasizing neighborhood service. It was nearly 20 years after the creation of the present day Brooklyn Public Library that ground was first broken for the creation of a central building, and an additional 30 years before the building was completed. For decades, a single wing of the half-constructed building stood alone on Flatbush Avenue as political grappling, war and financial instability left the Library’s fate in question.

This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future. Covering everything from its early ill-fated design as a monstrous Beaux Arts confection to behind-the-scenes views of library work, this exhibition will give patrons a new perspective on a familiar place, from the golden screen above the doors to the hidden stacks deep underground.

Elizabeth Felicella, Artist-in-Residence
My project is an exploration of the library archive with particular attention to its holdings that pertain to the Central Library building.  Sometimes I have photographed in response to archival pictures I find striking; other times, I have focused on areas that are underrepresented in the archive, including the rooms that house the archive itself. One of my ongoing interests when I photograph is the city, particularly the public realm and its constant re-figuring through use; in this project, I have been interested in how the design and organization of libraries are impacted by changing information technologies. I decided to portray the collection in the hands of the archivists, its caretakers over time, at this historic moment when archives are increasingly transitioning from analog to digital modes of preserving the past.

Grand Lobby, BPL ExhibitionIn addition to the exhibition, please attend the accompanying program
"Photographing Libraries" with Elizabeth Felicella
Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Collection at Central Library
Ms. Felicella will discuss her work as architectural photographer with Brooklyn Collection archivists Ben Gocker and Ivy Marvel, with special attention on how it relates to her photographs of the library archive that are included in the current exhibition An Open Book. An archive is typically deemed a repository of the past, compiled for the sake of posterity, the future; this public conversation, which is grounded in the collaborative relationship between photographer and archivist that has developed during Felicella’s time as Artist in Residence at the Brooklyn Public Library, presents an opportunity to consider the archive in the present tense and as an open, active endeavor. A wine and cheese reception, as well as distribution of tickets, is at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited to 40.

Elizabeth Felicella, BPL ExhibitionElizabeth Felicella holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography from Bard College. She has worked as a freelance architectural photographer since 1999 and has earned grants and fellowships for her own work from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, NYSCA, the Design Trust for Public Space and the MacDowell Colony. Her most recent project, Reading Room: A Catalog of New York City’s Branch Libraries was exhibited at the Mid-Manhattan Library and will continue to travel through the branch system. Other projects include a photographic atlas of the periphery of Kennedy Airport and a survey of security and public space. 


Please visit the other Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book exhibition displays in the Foyer Cases, Balcony Cases, Lobby Gallery, and the Brooklyn Collection on the second floor at Central Library.

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