ICA Baltimore presents topo(log) typo(log), a series of six books documenting Lu Zhang’s yearlong studio residency at the George Peabody Library. Emulating the Dewey Decimal system of relative location, each book embodies a level of the library: General Reference; Biography; History; Language, Literature, and Translation; Science and Art; Bibliography and Books about Books. Readers are invited to navigate through the pages as they would move through the cast-iron stacks and narrow passageways of the library’s interior.
Employing tasks common to a library of choosing, collecting, sorting, recording, transferring, scanning, and photocopying, Zhang reinterprets the building’s contents to create an associative and accumulative narrative that is specific yet arbitrary, expansive yet fragmentary. Gathering imagery from a wide range of sources including 18th century encyclopedias, architectural protrusions, guided tours, insurance maps, office supplies, renovation remains, and an essay on clouds, Zhang investigates the nature of work, the limitations of collective knowledge, and the poetics of place.
Additionally, the exhibition will include a selection of books curated by the ICA Baltimore from the Peabody's collection in response to Zhang's project, as well as books from the Johns Hopkins Library and the Maryland Institute College of Art—further contextualizing topo(log) typo(log) within library preservation theory and contemporary art movements.
After the duration of the exhibition, the six volumes will be acquired and cataloged by the George Peabody Library, becoming a part of the permanent collection.
She has collaborated with ICA Baltimore, PressPress, and SPARE to produce publications and exhibitions; the George Peabody Library to launch a studio residency program, and The Contemporary to build resource initiatives for artists.