It’s officially an artbook, photobook and high-end magazine store and library, but since opening in 2013 it has become far more than that. Through its exhibitions and launches it has transformed into an incubator for Irish artists, with a sharp focus on homegrown photography.
Some of the most exciting projects the city has seen in the last half a decade have either been exhibited on their walls or conceived over a beer or wine outside the store on a launch evening.
The next 12 months are going to be more important than ever, according to Ángel Luis González Fernández and Julia Gelezov.
“For the last few years we’ve been really thinking about the gallery space for photography in the 21st century and what it should do,” says Ángel. “We have to look at modern ways at engaging with photography. We’re toying with the idea of a museum as a space to start from, because we know what museums do; they collect, exhibit and research. If I say the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ireland, everyone will have a picture of what that will look like, more or less. Which is interesting, because I don’t know what it will look like! We want a place that’s about visual culture and critical thinking, which is what The Library Project is all about.”
Next July they’ll be opening up a Dublin city centre location for their ambitious idea. While the whereabouts of the space is still under wraps, Ángel says they’ll be planning a series of symposiums, workshops, talks and possibly a publication.
“We’re heading towards a new model of what we’ve discovered we need for Ireland in terms of photography. We’ve spent four or five years trying to discover this, but sometimes it’s worth spending this length of time. This isn’t going to be dropped from the sky, it’s going to have to be developed from the ground, and we’re going to have to motivate a lot of people.”
So there’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s in capable and passionate hands. However, they’ve also got an immediate focus.
From November 1 their Temple Bar space will be transformed for their annual HALFTONE exhibition, which showcases the work of 70 contemporary artists of various disciplines at The Library Project. An important aspect of the initiative is to have established and emerging artists exhibited alongside each other.
“When someone comes to see the works of a photographer, it means they’ll discover the work of a screenprinter. There’s an exchange, or at least an awareness of different ideas. All of these disciplines are quite compartmental and it’s nice to see artists thinking about their work in a different way. This exchange was crucial from the beginning.”
Another key part is affordability.
“The pieces go from €10 to thousands. We think about our visitors as locals, but also there are a lot of tourists as well. They come here and discover local artists, and HALFTONE allows people to discover a lot of people in one spot. It also means anyone can afford an artwork, put it in their living room and be proud of it.”
HALFTONE runs in The Library Project from November 1-18.