Lois Klassen is an artist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. Her texts have appeared in Word Hoard, Fillip Magazine, Border Crossings, Kapsula (in progress) and in the books Ethics and Visual Methods, and Mothering And/In/Through Mid Life (in progress). Her publishing imprint Light Factory is a production house for small edition artist books and textile multiples. Renegade Library: Collaborative Artist Books in Mail Art Form (1998), her archive of over 500 items, is currently being acquisitioned (Institute of American Indian Arts, VIVO Media Art Centre, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Centro de Dessarollo de las Artes Visuales, Artexte). Her current doctoral research (Cultural Studies Program, Queen’s University) is concerned with the ethical frameworks that artists take up in work involving vulnerable participants.
During the SFAI residency, I focused on collective reading of migration narratives. My emerging project, Reading in the Migration Library, took up forms of performed readings (during SFAI140), residency reading groups, an ever-growing list of migration texts, a chapbook, and a public reading inside Luis Camnitzer’s Cardinal Points installation at SITE Gallery. Through this work I meant to emphasize the public-ness and agentic quality to immigration/emigration stories. This work is meant as both a research method (for me as well as the readers/listeners) and an action. In terms of its agency, Reading the Migration Library proposes that this kind of public reading may produce what literary theorists call a “necessary ethical moment” (J. Hillis Miller).
My 2016 SFAI residency was a very productive time which involved meaningful interactions with other artists from many countries (often over fantastic communal meals!), direct exposure to border zone issues affecting the New Mexico region, and rich studio-based research and production. I am thrilled to be continuing some of this work through my academic research, and also by way of a Fulcrum Fund, which was awarded to the Present Cartographers Collective (Daisy Quezada, Sylvia Arthur, Lois Klassen) who found each other during the Immigration/Emigration residency year at SFAI.