JR and mick jones
Mick finds another ancient artefact for his library – LTW boss John Robb

The Rock and Roll Public Library Istituto Suanta Maria Della Pieta, Venice.

Vernissage 7th May 2015 (by invitation only) 8th May — 22nd November 2015

A treasure trove of popular culture is washing up on the banks of Venice’s grand waterways this May with the opening of The Rock and Roll Public Library during the 56th Venice Biennale. A site-specific installation exploring the notion of archive as art, the library is a curated selection taken from the impressive archive of iconic musician and producer Mick Jones of The Clash collected over the past 40 plus years.

Housed across four huge stores in West London, the archive is an Aladdin’s cave of popular culture, brought together by Jones’ magpie eye. Comics and cartoons from his childhood sit alongside American icon’s gracing the covers of Time Magazine, newspaper clippings, music magazines, punk fanzines, trashy pulp fictions, record covers and posters, an epic cacophony of the past lining the dusty warehouse shelves.

The paraphernalia of performance and merchandising materials from Jones’ bands—including customised stage clothes, instruments, bright pink flight cases, recording gear, posters, photographs, and song lyrics—all vie for attention with the countless first edition books, home-taped VHS cassettes, boxes of correspondence, ephemera, toys and games that mark out his life and times.

These relics of the last century, capturing a significant slice of British music history as told through Jones’ eyes and experience, trace a spark of imagination in service to the idea of continual creativity. “It’s a personal, cultural and social history of our times,” says Jones, “and through that it extends beyond the local to the global”. The library stands as a testament to pop music and pop art, to the importance of finding that spot “in the gap between art and life”, to employ the celebrated Robert Rauschenberg phrase.

The Rock and Roll Public Library will open at Istituto Santa Maria Della Pieta, a short walk from the Arsenale venue for the Biennale and next to the Hotel Metropole, from May 8th to November 22nd. The Istituto is a charitable cultural center that will also be hosting the National Taiwanese Pavilion amongst other collateral events.

Curated collectively by Jones himself, James Putnam and Lauren Jones (Alteria Art), the library represents just the tip of the iceberg of The Clash songwriter’s full archive. Spread over three rooms, the exhibition will feature wall-mounted installations of books, comics and other printed matter, as well as a 1970s listening booth allowing visitors to listen to music from the period. Display cases decorated with vibrant collages of visual material torn from the archives will house more valuable items, whilst vinyl records, stage outfits and other punk-era clothing will hang from the ceiling.

The final room will be an installation recreating Jones’ living room to offer an insight into how his obsession and the archive itself have materialised. Visitors will be able to interact with the archive from its collector’s perspective, sit in his chair, touch and pick up items, read and relax—as if in the home of a good friend. This physical interaction with the materials evokes memories and recollections, personal emotions and unique attachments in each visitor.

This personal relationship with the library will be explored by celebrated British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster, who will make their own curated selection of items from Jones’ archive, a personal edit of objects that speak to them and that will be displayed within the exhibition.

The invite only launch event will feature a live performance by  Sugarmen, Mick’s latest protégé’s who have recently supported The Who and who will open for them and Blur in Hyde Park this June. The show will open with a set from rising star Tom Bright. Full details to follow.

In collaboration with The Vinyl Factory, Mick Jones will be releasing a limited edition record to coincide with the opening in Venice. The vinyl, called Ex Libris, will feature all new tracks written and recorded by Jones in his studio at the start of 2015. Artwork has also been produced by Jones and will feature a booklet of images.

This edition of The Rock and Roll Public Library is supported by Dr. Martens, with additional backing from Les Inrockuptibles and London College of Fashion, UAL.

The Rock and Roll Public Library Istituto Santa Maria Della Pieta, Venice

Vernissage 7th May 2015 (by invitation only) 8th May — 22nd November 2015
Tues—Sat (11am—7pm)
Sun (noon—5pm)

Mon closed

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