PuSh Blog

Curatorial Statement – The Quiet Volume

January 22, 2014

I have a confession to make.

Until the preparation for The Quiet Volume, I hadn’t borrowed a book from the library for 10 years.

I discovered this two weeks ago when I was doing a final site visit to the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, taking photos and videos of potential areas to send to Ant Hampton (co-creator of The Quiet Volume, along with PuSh 2014 artist-in-residence Tim Etchells) in advance of his arrival to Vancouver. I needed a library card to access to the library’s WiFi; to get a new card I had to pay $32 of late fine on several overdue costume history books—from 2003 when I was doing my undergrad at UBC.

The Quiet Volume is many things depending on what your relationship to the library is or has been in your life. It is participatory and intimate, occupying both private and public space. Reading is a solitary activity, but is also an encounter with the writer. In libraries, we engage in this very individual activity as a collective. The whispers in your ear through a set of headphones is a meditation on the act of reading, and by extension of writing itself. The instructions that are given, prompt interaction with your reading partner.

What struck me most experiencing the piece was the way my levels of perception intersected, looking at printed words on a page, hearing a voice simultaneously speak the words, the images in my head as I was reading. All of this interplaying with my own embodied experience, the feel of sitting at the table, the sounds and smells around, and most importantly the relationship to my reading partner. My experience of the library will never be the same.

PuSh’s Board President, Peter Dickinson wrote recently in his blog that The Quiet Volume is “…not just for bibliophiles, this is a work for anyone who believes in the power of performance to transform the way one sees the world around you.”

Don’t miss this show.

Joyce Rosario, Associate Curator
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival



The Quiet Volume

January 17-19, 24-26, 31, February 1-2
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 3rd Floor
350 West Georgia Street

Performances begin every 20 minutes

Tickets: $20