Friday, February 24th, 2017


Bibliodérive is the application of the Situationist International practice of the dérive or “drift” reapplied to the realm of research, libraries and archives.

The Flaxman Library bibliodérive is a collection of generative, open-ended actions, or situations, taken to destabilize research practices geared towards an expected product or outcome, the gathering of information to merely support extant ideas and thought structures. It is a disruption in the traditional use value assigned to the library, the archive, to information storage and even to the very concept of research itself.

This Bibliodérive was held on Friday, February 24th, 2017, with the Flaxman Library as its central location. This interactive, participatory, all day event was open to all SAIC students, faculty and staff. Whether individually or in an organized group, participants were invited to engage with the library’s collections, architecture and community.


Participation took two main forms:

1. Situations were proposed by members of the SAIC community.

2. Dérive “prompts" were added to the Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck.

Table Of Contents


Exquisite Corpuses

Tuesday - Friday: 9:00am - 4:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

Each student from the “FYS II: Encountering Surrealism” class will be assigned a surrealist artist, but anyone can participate. Pair up or work in groups. Take the name of a Surrealist artist from a bowler hat, research and embody that artist without sharing your artist’s identity. Create a collaborative drawing project in Exquisite Corpse tradition and try to identify your partner’s artist. Drawings can be posted throughout the library as they unfold.

Divine Authenticity
Friday: 9:00am - 12:30pm, 508 Sharp

The Tarot has historically been used as a means to divine the future and make subjects aware of inner mysteries. The Tarot has been treated with skepticism, labeled a pseudoscience and a branch of mysticism deemed antithetical to the disciplines deemed authentic and preserved within the citadels we call libraries. Divine Authenticity will be an experiment in utilizing the Tarot as a means to divine the mysteries of subjects’ research, projects, art, and theoretical works. MA Art History candidate Kevin Whiteneir will conduct Tarot readings using decks from the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, informing participants of potential mysteries as an alternative means of brainstorming and project development.

Emotion Bin
Friday: 9:00am - 4:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

‘Emotion bins’ which look like trash bins but have different classifications, will be placed throughout the 6th floor library. Participants can write down their emotions and their feelings and then put them into the appropriate bin - ‘negative emotions’ or ‘positive emotions.’ At 4pm, the papers will be collected and made a book or collection at a later date.

The Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

The Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck is a set of prompts aimed for engaging with the library’s collections, exploring non-traditional research and the physicality of the library itself. The Deck of prompts will be available to 
dérivists for use on 2.24.2017. Prior to the bibliodérive, we are collecting prompts from the SAIC community. Please add your prompt to our deck using this link. The completed Deck will be archived in the library and will be shared online.


Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 508 Sharp

YOUR MESSAGE HERE was a public billboard project sponsored by Randolph Street Gallery with the artist collective Group Material. From January to March 1990, around 40 billboards were posted throughout the city of Chicago. Come to the Flaxman Special Collections Reading Room to view the original proposals and devise your own signs. Your message will be posted around campus via digital signboards, distributed on social media, and become part of our online repository, Archive As Artistic Practice.

Re-Open the Correspondence
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 508 Sharp

Come to the Flaxman Special Collections Reading Room to view examples from our Mail Art collection and re-open the conversation with a correspondence artist. Supplies and facsimiles will be provided for you to remix and reply with your own work. We’ll help dig up the artists’ addresses and take care of the postage to get a copy of your work in the mail.

Unsettling the Canon: Decentering Dominant Paradigms in Art Education
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

Unsettling the Canon comprises a participatory bibliography and collection of texts on themes of indigeneity, colonization, and racism: resources for understanding and combating systemic oppression and white supremacy; decolonial and inclusive methodologies for education/arts education; and alternatives to the dominant (Eurocentric, white supremacists, cis-gender, patriarchal, heterosexual, colorist, ableist) art canon. The bibliography will be available to the SAIC community online, with a selection of key texts to be produced, assembled, and distributed in print form during the Bibliodérive. See the bibliography in progress & suggest a text.

- Visiting Artist lecture Wednesday 2/22/17 4:30pm - 6:00pm,SAIC Ballroom

- Public Forum & Teach-In Thursday 2/23/17 4:30pm - 7:00pm, Neiman Center, 1st floor

“She playfully called me, ‘You naughty man’ when she heard my Leica shutter click”
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

On the backside of a card featuring Shay’s iconic photograph is written: “She playfully called me, ‘You naughty man’ when she heard my Leica shutter click.” - LIFE photographer Art Shay on shooting Simone de Beauvoir in Chicago in 1950. Skim through The Second Sex (1949) until you come upon the word “but.” Carefully copy this compound sentence below. Underline “but.” Can you reformulate Beauvoir’s original sentence, thus stripped of all context, into a meaningful question? If not, begin again; find another “but.” If so, write it down. Search the library for an answer.
Cards provided at the library’s front desk.

VDB Dérive
Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime (VDB staff available from 10am - 12noon), 6th floor Sharp, 613

Video Data Bank has produced over 500 unique artist interviews recorded at SAIC between 1976 and today, the On Art & Artists Collection. While these interviews are typically used as subject-specific research documents on particular artists, they are not typically considered as artistic texts in and of themselves. How would we engage differently in an artists’ self presentation if we privileged their words over biography and accomplishment? What might we find if we allowed ourselves to consider these interviews out of sync and out of context?

1. Choose an unmarked disc and play it.
2. Fast forward to a title sequence that catches you.
3. Watch and find a phrase worth repeating.
4. Write it down on the erase board for others without attribution.

Collage Your Own Art History Canon
Friday: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm drop in anytime, Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago

Using as inspiration the collage books/narratives of surrealist Max Ernst and his reproduction and scrambling of text and imagery, the Ryerson will provide examples of canon and hegemony to be scrambled and revised. Resources such as online databases (including archive images), old Janson texts, books on the Columbian Exposition, and reference materials will be available for photocopying, collaging, and creating new narratives and texts for the 21st century.

About Me
Friday: 11:00am - 1:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

A critique / study of perception & ethnography. There are many voices/layers involved. Participants will view before them on the table a timeline of my life. They will then be asked to find a source or sources in the library that they feel are relevant to or rather, more strongly, that reconstruct my life experiences and events. The participants can feel free to ask me questions about my life. I will then sift through these sources, compile scans, edit video, or mix sound of relevant parts of the sources, parts that I feel do speak to my timeline, and then create an artist book from this material. This work is about interpretation and perception. The participants’ perception of me & my interpretation of their sources. Are these perceptions negative or positive? How ‘accurate’ are they? The multiple realities of understanding the same timeline can contribute to a broader understanding & meditation on the process, creation, distribution, and recognition of histories.

Biblio Synth
Friday: 1:00pm - 2:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

The Introduction to Sound students will be reading from book(s). One person with a handheld synth. Pitch goes up read faster. Amplitude goes up read louder. Silence change books. Everyone welcome to join this event.

The Book of Face
Friday: 2:00pm-3:00pm
, 6th floor Sharp

A mass will be conducted while tea is provided to guests and Facebook statuses will be read live while playing the keys in a form of ritual. Guests may also read Facebook statuses they find as well.

No tengo las palabras (I don’t have the words)
Friday: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
, 6th floor Sharp

The number of books equal to the number of people that have been deported from Chicago (a “sanctuary” city) since Trump became president will be collected and carried for the duration of an hour. The books will all be authored by Latinx immigrants and published in the U.S.

you tell me first
Friday: 2-3pm, 6th floor Sharp

I will be sitting at a desk, folding paper onto which I will have written words. The pieces of paper will then be folded and shot randomly with an elastic.

What’s in a Title Anyways?
Friday: 2:30pm - 3:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

I will travel from one end of the library to the other making my way to 10 points in between in a loosely choreographed manner. At each point I will be semi-camouflaged while reading a short text comprised of a combination/collage of book titles that exist in the Flaxman library as loud and as softly as possible.

Interpretive Portrait Sessions
Friday: 3:00pm - 4:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Tim Nickodemus and his class of painting students will be making on the spot ‘interpretive’ portraits of willing Bibliodérive participants.

Bibliodérive: Situation Sonique
Friday: 4:00pm - 5:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Collaborative project between Alp Seyrekbasan and Alexis Petroff, who will explore the sonic elements of the Flaxman Library with microphones, amplifiers and speakers, drifting from one noise-site to the next with a portable sound amplification rack. The performative situation realized by the duo attempts to reveal the hidden noises of the Flaxman library, as well as exploring it’s “engineered space,” where its ambiance is engineered for silence, will be actively deconstructed as a space for noisefulness.


See video documentation.

View a Flickr stream from the event.

See #biblioderive on Instagram.

Browse responses to YOUR MESSAGE HERE Redux
 andRe-Open the Correspondence in the Archive as Artistic Practice database.




“Bibliodérive,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed August 8, 2020,