Thursday, November 30th, 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.

The Bibliodérive was be held on Thursday, November 30, 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


The Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck
Thursday: 10:00am - 7:00pm 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 during the event. 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.

Absent Things
Thursday: 10:00am - 7:00pm, drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

As Jeannie Vanasco writes in the January 2012 issue of The Believer: “The dictionary defines erase as ‘to scrape or rub out (anything written, engraved, etc.); to efface, expunge, obliterate.’ Its Latin root roughly translates as ‘to scrape away.’ These definitions imply loss and destruction…To erase is to leave something else behind.” Using SAIC’s duplicate copies of P-Form magazine, participants are invited to erase or blackout text, creating a new narrative or poem to leave behind. Then, participants will place these new texts on the walls of the library to actively display these erased documents.

Unsettling the Canon: Decentering Dominant Paradigms in Art Education

Thursday: 10:00am - 7:00pm 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.

VDB Dérive

Thursday: 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 privilege 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 down on the erase board for other without attribution.

FYS I Chance: Situationist Tarot Card Readings
Thursday: 10:30am - 12:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Guy Debord, Situationists founder and first theoretician of the dérive, insisted that the cover of his last published text bear the image of “Le Bateleur” from the Marseille Tarot. Commonly translated as the Juggler, the Magus, or the Magician, Debord admired this first trump of the Major Arcana as, “the most mysterious and the most beautiful […] It seems to me that this card will add, and without the duty to imply too strongly, something that one could see as a certain mastery of manipulation, and will do so by opportunely recalling the extent of its mystery.” (letter to Georges Monti). The art of magic, the discipline to which reading tarot belongs, manipulates how we see in order to show us something beautiful and mysterious. Those interested in the connection between avant garde aleatory practices and traditional street magic and manipulation will have the chance for conversation. Those seeking answers to life’s beautiful mysteries in their research or creative practice will have the opportunity to consult the Tarot for inspiration.

P-Form Flux Redux Paper Event
Thursday: 12:00 - 7:00pm, drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

George Maciunas, founding member of Fluxus, created a performance called Flux Paper Events which is an interpretation of Benjamin Patterson’s paper piece. Participants perform using a score which is a series of prompts for altering the pages of small book/magazine. Using extra copies of P-Form, the performance magazine from Chicago’s Randolph Street Gallery (1980s-90s), participants will perform the score and create their own Paper Event in the library.
Please note: from 12:15 - 1pm, SAIC Faculty member Simon Anderson will perform Benjamin Patterson’s paper piece score.

Afro-Futurism in the Library: Reading List Fall 2017
Thursday: 3:00pm - 4:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Participants photograph and post images of book covers and pages to social media ( Instagram: #biblioderive @saic_library + @DenengeTheFirst | Twitter: @saic_library + @DenengeTheFirst ) of Afro-Futurism-related books you find in the library. Join D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem’s Fall 2017 class “Afro-Futurism: Pathways to Black Liberation” to uncover hidden treasures on topics including futurity, apocalypse, Afro-Surrealism, Black speculative arts, African Diasporic fashion, design and music, inspired by Cauleen Smith’s recent exhibition Reading List_3.0 at the Art Institute of Chicago. See which artists are represented across a wide range of media. All are welcome to participate!

Thursday: 4:00pm - 5:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Start a phone call with someone on the other end of the library. Through the phone call, pass the sound of the air vent that chirps like a cricket on speaker phone. Then, with 2 more people, start another phone call, but this time pass the sound of the vent coming out of the phone through the phone line. Repeat this throughout the library, not only spreading the sound of the chirp, but delaying, distorting, and degrading its signal, transforming the library from a quiet space to a field of chirping phones.

Dangerous Encounters
Thursday: 6:00pm - 7:00pm, 6th floor Sharp

Reflecting on Hannah Arendt’s conviction that the hallmark of totalitarian rule is a society “besieged by an inability to think,” this situation responds by reasserting the critical importance of a library located in an institution of higher education in the face of the debasement of Knowledge at this juncture in American society. Using the censorious techniques of the state, we will cordon off a separate section for “dangerous” books – selected by anyone during the bibliodérive – the content of which has spoken to one’s desires, curiosity, ambitions. Participants can jot down why the book is a critical resistance to ignorance using bookmarks provided, add it to the book which will be shelved with ‘dangerous’ books. The bookmarks will form the basis of an artist’s book, adding rather than subtracting from the corpus of books that can be deemed dangerous and desirable. Join us for tea and conversation around this topic in the library.

A Library Party
Thursday: 6:00pm - 7:30pm, 6th floor Sharp, 613

Please join Tim Nickodemus and his Research Studio class for a library party. Enjoy a a fun and welcoming, albeit disorienting, environment. Be prepared for: bubbles, dry ice, balloons, party hats, music, colored lights, and more!


View a Flickr stream from the event.

See #biblioderive on Instagram.





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