A couple weeks ago I received an email with this subject line:
“Judd Foundation announces online access to Donald Judd’s 13,004-book personal library in Marfa, Texas, www.juddfoundation.org/library/”
I’m not a Judd worshiper but I thought, “Wow, that’s kind of interesting.” I read on to the body of the email.
“Judd Foundation announced today that Donald Judd’s personal library of 13,004 books located in La Mansana de Chinati, his home and studio in Marfa, Texas is now accessible online at www.juddfoundation.org/library/. The library database is the result of an ambitious process, which took more than 3,500 hours of work and led to the cataloguing and photography of the collection from October 2008 through January 2010.”
So I clicked on the link. I got to see pictures of books in bookshelves in Donald Judd’s library. Through a series of clicks I could move to individual selves and then individual books. Identification tabs appear as you mouse over shelves and books. When you click on a book’s spine, a page opens with a photograph of its cover and catalogue information. Then I tried to click on the book cover and nothing happened. I was expecting a link to Google books or something that would let me read the book or at least some part of it online. Then I saw a big red asterisk to the right, with the words “Judd Library is not a lending institution. Click here to find libraries with this item near you.”
No, the Judd Library is not a lending institution; it’s a fucking shrine.
“More than 3,500 hours of work” went into photographing the shelves and the spines and covers of the books of Donald Judd’s library. It took almost a year and a half and a “program and browser designed specifically for this project.” A diagram of the two-room library allows you to click on each one of the 96 individual bookcases. And every shelf in those bookcases is slavishly preserved exactly as “The Don” left it, even the books piled on top of other books or turned sideways. I can just picture the cataloguers and photographers carefully removing and exactly replacing each haphazard pile just as his holiness placed them before he departed this earth.
You want to catalogue Judd’s library, make an online list of its contents, let scholars, fans, inquiring minds know what he read? Great. But who in their right mind would go to this much trouble, do something this unnecessarily involved and spend the ridiculous amounts of cash it no doubt took to pull it off? Every shelf is carefully recorded, even the EMPTY ones.
What I am supposed to do with this? Genuflect before my computer screen?
And all this in Marfa, a tiny, isolated West Texas town where 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Let them eat boxes.