ADJACENT : RomaMoMA Nomadic Library display at Vulnerable Archives, SAVVY Contemporary
Daniel Baker: Adjacent, 2021, for RomaMoMA Library @ SAVVY Contemporary. Photo: ERIAC
The ADJACENT design concept marries the barcode of a book from the RomaMoMA Nomadic Library with a functional object. In this case, ADJACENT is a white mobile table painted with black lines to form the barcode of We Roma: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art. The concept title refers not only to the parallel lines that form the code, but also symbolises the act of standing side by side with our collaborators in our fight for equality.
This ADJACENT concept stems from my interest in the relationships between the embodied and the virtual, and the representation of objects and ideas through abstract motifs and symbols, such as barcodes, crochet patterns, etc. It also draws upon the multifunctionality that underpins much of Roma material culture and, by necessity, Roma life. The dual functionality of the object, a table that also acts as a portal through which to access information regarding a particular publication via the barcode, emphasises the interplay between the intellectual and the domestic / between Roma knowledge and Roma daily life.
I co-edited We Roma: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art in 2012 with Maria Hlavajova. Its contents include contributions from Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Director of SAVVY Contemporary) and Tímea Junghaus (Director of ERIAC and co-founder of RomaMoMA). By scanning the barcode visible on the ADJACENT table with their smartphone, the visitor is, in theory, able to access the information about the book, thereby channelling the agency of the artist (myself), the host (SAVVY), and the catalyst (ERIAC) through a convergence of the virtual, the physical and the cultural to highlight the spirit of cross-cultural collaboration that lies at the heart of RomaMoMA.
The ADJACENT design concept represents the first in a series of functional objects that can each relate to a particular book from the collection. As well as activating links beyond the physical, ADJACENT also offers the opportunity to focus attention on specific elements of the Nomadic Library, depending upon the geographic or contextual location of its presentation.