Byam Shaw

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I met Eva just after I finished my MA. I wanted to interview AND Publishing for my MA essay because I was interested in the way they thought about art, publishing and distribution. When we met, Eva invited me to hand in a proposal for a one-month residency at the Byam Shaw Library. I had just read an essay from Daniel Alarcon in Granta magazine about the practice of book piracy in Peru. I’m Peruvian but I moved to Brazil with my family in 1989 at a similar age and during the same period in which Alarcon moved to the US. This has weirdly meant that Alarcon and I seem to have very similar memories and share a fascination with ‘Peruvianness’ that places us inside and outside the culture. Or gives us a shared perspective from a similar position in time.

I grew up reading pirated copies of books bought in my coming-back-home holidays. The sellers of pirated books in traffic light stops seemed very familiar but also very foreign since pirated books were not common in Brazil. When I read Alarcon’s description of those modified books it felt very personal: What had I been reading? Who had I been reading? I told Eva, I’m going to Peru next week to visit my family and maybe there is something there? Maybe I can propose something related to the modified pirated books? Eva was really excited about the potential of those books and told me to come back to see her after my trip. I spend so much time in pirated book markets and comparing books page by page. And then I found it.

There is also how that was an important time in terms of student activism. A moment in which the commodification of university education had accelerated and there was a feeling that staff and students could imagine different ways to think about the institutions and art education as well as protest. In a sense, the PP happened in the same time frame of Arts Against Cuts, the Camberwell occupation and all the alternative MAs that followed. The PP was connected with the occupation of the library in terms of how property and ownership are constructed in the institution. Who is the library for? Who owns a library? What are the power processes involved in constructing that space as well as produced by it?

Annotated by AF