…of resource/full ideations –  Reader Residency Zoë Charlery

January 26, 2023 9:57 am
A mind map with overlapping lines in yellow orange pink and green.

Last Autumn we invited Zoë Charlery to take on a residency at our Resource Library. The Reader Residency is a pilot residency format for activating and shaping the growing collection of books that inform and foster solidarity across global political movements.

Zoë spent their time reading the library’s sources to consider the entangled channels that support an abolitionist practice. They researched and unpacked the related meanings and histories of what a library has been/is/could be and how a space can be of resource. Through a process of deconstruction, they explored the inscription of meaning into language by way(s) of association, relation (to power) and convention. These ideas were supported by reading, mapping and staring into space. 


“This residency consisted of an amalgamated sequence of reading, mapping and staring into space. 

I first approached the residency considering what it means to experience a site during its earlier phase(s) of being. Where the space is at a specific juncture in its form and identity, containing both possibility of / other, along with history inscribed into its name. I explored the etymology and [considered] origins of libraries, to see what layers preside over/under/around the meanings of what a library has been/is/or could be. Drawing from a Derridian set of principles, also observed in Sara Ahmed’s writings, I led my approach by way of deconstruction as a means of questioning existing systems of information, to create ruptures to open space for an / other. 

Thought: Organic materials like clay, papyrus – flesh / have always been vessels for knowledge and inscription of meaning. 

Anticipated, findings presented the ways imperial and colonial interests across time have used containers of information, philosophies and poetics [i.e. libraries] to augment power and cultural ideas of exceptionalism. 

Such containers have been instruments to support historical erasures [burnings – stealings] along with the divisions of knowledge through fixed categorisations and notions of discipline*. Therefore, by way of their construction and utility, libraries are not neutral passive sites but rather quiet, ashy [many books have been burned] and [historically] bloody vehicles for idealogical dissemination. The library’s applied systems of categorisation, acquisition and collection are invariably enmeshed with hegemonic interests and declarations for a public/common ‘good.’ 

This raised questions and ideation’s of how something like a library [unless the name is abandoned entirely] can develop in ways counter to the methods that linger in its name’s history. This also invites interesting introspection of our own intentions with world making: in the process of counter-cultural-learning-formations, what do we choose to keep? What do we choose to un/learn? Are we conscious of what we’re choosing? 

Thought: Fire supports power, supports reclamation, supports resistance(s). 

Thought: Discipline* Speaking not only to form but also regulation, carcerality and hierarchies of knowledge – meta-physical borderings of ideation.

[still deconstructing] I shifted away from the container and towards the intention – and name – of the resource library, in it being a resource. After unpacking and reworking the implied, ‘literal’, and interpretive definitions, further questions were raised that did not seek definitive answers: 

What do we need to independently and collectively be resourced through our respective practices of anti-racism, global solidarity and liberatory speculations? 

How do you resource un/learnings, conversations, survivals and recoveries? 

How does a resource effectively resource? 

Thoughts: So, the body is a library?

Zoë Charlery*


*Zoë Charlery is a supportive speculator, spectator, mal/adaptive daydreamer and reconciler of theories, counter-realities and conjecture. Interested by paradoxes, incoherence and discomfort, their work often circles and returns to a practice of questioning and unravelling what is seemingly determined and definitive. 

Based in Glasgow, their work tends to be in the form of research, talking, writing and producing.