Temporary Institute (One): the Bio-Archives
May, September and November 2015

Workhouse Union Residency, Callan
In May 2015 Vagabond Reviews began the first phase of a residency at Workhouse Union, Callan, Co Kilkenny. Curated by Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch, Workhouse Union, was formulated as: a distinct programme of artist commissions, open discussion events, film screenings, public events, and active research, which constitutes the next stage in the conception, development and transformation of a semi-derelict wing of Callan Workhouse into a complex cultural hub with shared artistic, design, research and community facilities.

Along with the work of other artists who participated in the residency, in November Vagabond Reviews presented Temporary Institute (One): the Bio-Archives, a collection of micro-libraries drawn from the ecology of readers, both local and further afield, on themes of reading through systemic violence in its many forms.

During our research bio-archive emerged as a device for gathering the thematic strands that came into consideration in our encounters with Callan. Contributors were invited to draw on their lived investment of reading in order to select the texts which have influenced them and helped them endure in relation to struggles with forms of systemic violence. A bio-archive emphasises the books that arrived and saved us when we needed them rather than the theoretical coherence of a life of reading.

In the nascent library at Callan Workhouse the bio-archives were gathered as a first expression of a collective knowledge, both embodied and textual that hovers within the proximal community and further afield. They were assembled in a state of suspended anticipation of the new library, a partial and transitory expression of that collective knowledge. On November 21st we presented the collected bio-archives along with their critical ecology of readers in a fluid, conversational exploration where contributors spoke from the authority of their self-selected archive.

We are sincerely grateful for bio-archival materials contributed and animated by:

Pat Crowley
Etaoin Halohan
Patrick Lydon
Hollie Kearns
Joe Kennedy
Rosie Lynch
Deirdre O’Mahony


Katherine Waugh

Bio-archives were also contributed by Ailbhe Murphy and Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews.

temporary institutes
the bio-archives
Workhouse Union.