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Mīharo: Imagine libraries


Fri 26 Feb 2021, 12:10pm–1:00pm

Where: Te Ahumairangi Ground Floor, National Library, cnr Molesworth & Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

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Part of the Mīharo Wonder exhibition
A talk with pictures by Ian Wedde — imagine a national library in a time of plague. Will it incorporate a global vision? How will it moderate ‘relevance’? How will it incorporate the archival and non-moderated domains of social media? What kinds of censorship may emerge? Could the global crisis stimulate an expanded concept of relevance both contemporary and historical?

Images of plagues
The images chosen to frame this talk are firstly of the classic Gallimard edition of Albert Camus’s 1947 novel La Peste — in English The Plague — and some forty years later one by the English tag artist Banksy, Instagram video, If you don’t mask you don’t get it, London Underground, July 2020.

If you don’t mask you don’t get it is a video-still of a sneezing rat, a creature associated with the plague. The image itself was removed soon after but the video survives in the archive that is Banksy’s vast territory on Instagram, as well as in many social media postings and links.

The classic 1947 Gallimard edition of La Peste is part of the collection here at the National Library, and how many copies might exist the world over? In how many languages? Juxtapose this with the fact that a search engine query of “Covid-19” reveals 6,250,000,000 searches in the space of less than a minute.

Nature and function of a national library
This sparks thought about the nature and function of a national library — and most obviously about what the definition ‘national’ means in these circumstances.

Could this crisis be a transforming opportunity?

About the speaker
Ian Wedde ONZM is a poet, novelist, essayist and curator. His most recent books are the historical novel The Reed Warbler (VUP 2020), Ian Wedde: Selected Poems (AUP 2017), Picturing Asia — Double Take: The Photography of Brian Brake and Steve McCurry (Asia Society Hong Kong Centre 2016), Bill Culbert: Making Light Work (AUP 2009), and Making Ends Meet: Essays & Talks 1992-2004 (VUP 2005).

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