I’ll never forget my first visit to Minnesota. Being born and raised in New York there had been few reasons to venture west of the Hudson River. I was in my early 20’s and coming off the disco years. Rumor had it that Minnesota was the perfect place to dry out. So off I went. It was late March and winter was just finishing up. In the cab from the airport, I kept seeing lots and lots of little shacks huddled close together off in the distance. Every few miles they seemed to appear again.
Finally, after a handful of such sightings, I asked the cab driver “Is that where the poor people live?”
The cab drive laughed, though I wasn’t joking, and informed me that they were little houses that people fished in. Welcome to Minnesota.
The Art Shanty Projects, held on Medicine Lake in a suburb of the Twin Cities, is an annual “exhibition of performance, architecture, science, art, video, literature, survivalism and karaoke, ASP is part sculpture park, part artist residency and part social experiment, inspired by traditional ice fishing houses that dot the state’s lakes in winter”
The 2010 exhibition featured the Library Shanty, Medicine Lake Branch.
The Library Shanty is the creation of Lauren Herzak-Bauman. It
seeks to bring about interaction between art, the public, and the lake through sharing books and providing an environment in which to interact. The Medicine Lake Branch’s collection will specifically deal in art and regional cultural activities. We seek to function in a number of ways: to document the exchange and history of objects and information; to serve as a gathering place and location for cultural exchange; and to exhibit notable subjects and ideas within the context of the library’s holdings. Come hang out at the Medicine Lake Branch and create a library card, join a book clubs or enjoy the curated shelf-sized art exhibitions.”
The library consists of 300 books, available for use in the Library Shanty or they could be checked out to be taken to another shanty. No books leave the ice. Most of the library’s collection was cataloged on LibraryThing which allowed patrons to peruse the collection before visiting.
The two most popular books at Library Shanty:
Sex Pots: Eroticism in Ceramics, and
Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton
Imagine each winter the Land of 10,000 Lakes transformed into the Land of 10,000 Libraries. It makes sense to me now.
Interview with Herzak-Bauman at Library Journal
Art Shanty Projects on Flickr