Kenneth Ting-Yu Lin, zhaoyuefan:
A Catalogue for Two / Wild Sheep Chase / A Formosan Boy

Do you also have two same books on your bookshelf?

The first time when we stepped into the Andreas Züst library, we realized that there were a lot of duplicate titles in the collection. In a public library, it’s quite common to have multiple copies of popular titles, so that many readers can borrow them at the same time: one could imagine a shared or simultaneous reading experience happening in the region, without all participants’ awareness of it. But, as we all know, this library was built on the basis of Andreas Züst’s lifelong collection of books. Do people usually buy two copies of the same book? Why would Mr. Züst have so many duplicate books in his collection? For collecting’s sake (Kenneth: actually I can really relate to that)? Or perhaps he also wanted to share his books with someone else? The question always lingers in our hearts and appears every time we enter the space.

“How about we just find out all the duplicate titles in the library?” Toward the end of our month-long residency at the Andreas Züst library, the two of us had still been working on our individual projects separately. While discussing what we could do together, one of us suggested this cheesy idea: a pair finding books in pairs.

One of us suggested the idea, while the other agreed and pushed forward with the execution. “Let’s find all the same books,” a simple phrase, took more time and was much more tedious than we had anticipated. Now, as we reflect on it, completing the project together perhaps holds even more significance than the concept itself. (Do some of you find amusement in the changes in our clothing, socks, and poses in each picture?) Without our continuous mutual criticism — questions like, “Isn’t this too boring? Can it be more fun?”— this project wouldn’t have been completed. So, in every sense, this is not only “A Catalogue for Two” but also “A Catalogue by Two.”

There’s one word that we’ve always struggled with: same, similar, identical, repeated, double, duplicate, twin… Certainly, they apply to different situations. The nuance between words are like the nuance between books (or between human beings). Another tricky question is how to identify the identical items (in the process of making this project, those tricky cases were decided jointly by the two of us. If there was a misjudgment, we take joint responsibility). The similarities and differences among individuals are a larger related topic which we won’t delve into here – but leaving for our readers to ponder.

Why compile this catalogue? Aside from satisfying our personal whims as artists, another initial idea of us is to trace back to that imaginary moment of different people reading the same book. The reason why Andreas Züst had these duplicate titles is unknown and may never be solved. Yet those books lead us to a new gateway into the library — a possibility for practicing collective reading.

This is a project made for plural individuals — for friends, lovers, families, artistic duos, or the encountered strangers. If the two of you, want to read a book simultaneously, in this library, this is the catalogue for you.

A Catalogue for Two is the collaborative project of the artists Kenneth Ting-Yu Lin and zhaoyuefan during their one month residency at the Andreas Züst library. Alongside their collaboration, the two artists have also worked on two other projects individually:

Wild Sheep Chase: inspired by Haruki Murakami’s novel “A Wild Sheep Chase” which the artist found in one bookshelf at the residency space, also because of the sheep and cow farms nearby, Fan intuitively decided to transform the books into the sheep: she copied pages from selected books in the library and folded them into sheep origami, lead them on an escape from the space. The paper sheep stay in the middle ground between knowledge and non-knowledge, understanding and not-understanding, leaving space for reflections and new fantasies.

A Formosan Boy: Throughout the month, Kenneth kept selecting books from the library that interested him and translated/transcribed the images into brush-ink drawings: he made a conscious effort to draw only using lines, which indicates the painting and calligraphy tradition in the east Asia, as opposed to the western painting tradition, which focuses more on shading. How to view an European library from an Asian perspective – the drawing series is the artist’s attempt to answer this question. The title of the series, “A Formosan Boy”, is artist’s self-reference which also comes from the library: though there are a lot of books about Asia here, the only image we found that related to Kenneth’s homeland, Taiwan (also known as “Formosa”), was a photo describing “a Formosan Boy” inside a photo book called “Japanese Children” published by Asahi Shinbunsha in 1936.

April 2024
Text+Fotos: Kenneth Ting-Yu Lin, zhaoyuefan