Kerry Mansfield’s exhibit Expired documents books that have been discarded, exiled, from libraries after decades of being read, handled, mistreated, and loved. Mansfield thoughtfully photographs the covers, inside pages, and spines to capture the evidence of the years and years of use. Each picture is taken against a black background in order to emphasize the marks left on the books. Marks such as spilled coffee or finger print marks from dirty hands.
This article explains two main points of commentary: time and collectiveness. First, this documentation captures the passage of time. The pictures of the check-out cards are a very obvious show of the passage of time, a sneak peak at every library-goer to borrow said book over many days. I think that the subject itself, books, lend itself to commentary on time. For example, one images shows all the dates and names that Charlotte’s Web was checked out. As a child, everyone who learns to read experiences the feeling of losing themselves in a good book and completely losing track of time in the real world. Next, the idea that so much of the value in this work comes from the ‘left-overs’ of many others lends itself to the idea of the work being a collective process. It would not have the sentimental value or the emotional impact without the layers and layers of experience that the readers left on the pages. The images show “decay reflecting a collective act of reading.” This quote does a nice job of drawing together the ways that the collectiveness and the idea of time are drawn together.
Personally, I think this project was such a lovely idea because I have so many memories of being a kid and looking at who checked out the book I was reading before me. How exciting it was if I recognized a name or if I saw a date from fifty years ago and feeling like I was connected to something so historic, it had a treasure or magic like feel. This project captures this youthful curiosity while still focusing on the agedness and decay of the books. Sharing the echoes of youthful curiosity and the decay creates a sense of bittersweetness for times gone by similar to the feeling of returning to a childhood home or going back to a place that you used to love and expired but now is closed, abandoned, or changed. I also feel like there is something really sad about this project because it shows how things so wrought with human touch and connection can be so easily thrown away and discarded.
This link has better pictures of the work itself: