[ 28 Mar - 10 May 2014 ]


'On books and the housing of them'


GLADSTONE is a dynamic research and exhibition project about ‘reading domains’ past and present. It is inspired by the essay ‘On books and the housing of them’  by William Ewart Gladstone (1809 – 1898).

Exhibition: 28 March – 10 May 2014

Seminar: Friday 9 May, 11 am – 5 pm

Closing event: Friday 9 May from 5 pm

- Also follow our Gladstone weblog –

Gladstone was not only one of the most prominent British Prime Ministers of all time, but also a 19th-century literary glutton and collector of books. What’s more, at the end of the 19th century Gladstone already wrote about the problems of readers and their libraries. Even at that time there was an unremitting flux of information and publications that was impossible to keep up with.  In his essay he describes the, still topical, concerns of readers and lovers of books, and he can thus be regarded as an early pioneer in the current debate about the future and significance of reading and libraries.

In this project – that includes an exhibition, a blog and a seminar – GEMAK not only zooms in on personal reading domains past and present, the enjoyment, adventure and art of reading and the romantic attitude of the reader/lover of books, but also on the challenges of the ‘word culture’ for the ear and the eye in the digital 21st century, with its well-nigh limitless possibilities.

In the GEMAK exhibition a dynamic and growing proposal is presented to a personal and temporary reading domain, publicly compiled by Hans Ligteringen and Marie Jeanne de Rooij.  For this GLADSTONE moment, a select little club of favorites is awarded lots of space to be read and watched: Laurence Sterne, John Berger, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Gladstone and of course also Borges, among others. The visitor is free to find their own connections and coherence. An inspiring example of associations such as these is already present in the exhibition: the Affinity Bulletin Board.

Also, a special contribution by Justin Bennett, who, in his experimental sound video Raw Materials, researches the way in which sound affects text. What remains in a textual reproduction of sound and what disappears, or will a (new) story or poem emerge? Together with Hans Ligteringen, Petra van der Schoot filmed the artist Frans van Tartwijk while he and artist Guda Koster were in the process of making an exhibition in the reading domain of Tartwijk’s mother, writer Noor Smals, who died in 2013. This exhibition, “ .. PIEP, zei de muis in het voorhuis” is open to the public until 21 April 2014 in Nijmegen:  177 Groesbeekseweg. Through this video an external reading domain is enabled to visit the GLADSTONE reading domain. (watch the video here)

- Download the map of the exhibition space


Complementary to the exhibition, GEMAK will present an extensive GLADSTONE seminar program with lectures and artists’ contributions. Here, the main focus will lie on visions on the future of the library and the book, on reading, on filing away and disclosing knowledge and information, on privacy and copyright and on how freely accessible knowledge and information will remain in a digitalized society.

Having arrived at a tipping point where analogue information and the traditional, pressurized, media of the last century meet the virtual possibilities and new media of this century, GEMAK seizes the moment to contemplate and investigate our personal and collective relationships with both old and new means of communication and data flows.  The motto for this is:  you win some, you lose some. What things from ‘the olden days’ should we hang on to and what things that are still merely a shining promise should we accept with open arms?

- find out more about the seminar –


On the special GLADSTONE blog the GLADSTONE themes are extensively highlighted and shared. Tips for blog items are welcome via


During the GLADSTONE exhibition’s opening hours everyone is welcome and encouraged to bring and read their own favorite book at GEMAK.  A selection of François Truffaut’s favorite books, as featured in his movie Fahrenheit 451, is also available in the exhibition space.

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