The Roslyn Forbes-Adigweme Memorial Library is an interactive reading room and performance fane that blurs the lines between public and private; celebration and mourning; and the temple, the stage, and the archive.
open to the public 8a-5p Monday through Friday and 1-4p Saturday and Sunday, when the artist is present
about the artist: alea adigweme is a multidisciplinary artist-scholar working in the fields of creative writing, book arts, performance, social practice, and visual/dimensional media. In 2012, she earned an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa. In May 2018, she graduated from UI with an MA in Media Studies and a graduate certificate in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies.
In addition to her public-facing work as an educator and cultural critic, alea is the author of birdbolt idolatry, a poetry chapbook released by dancing girl press, and her written work has been featured by outlets including Gawker, The Iowa Review blog, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and Fightland.
She is currently at work on an artists book and a book-length essay, both of which center women of perceivable African descent in the United States.
more about the project: “On 5 February 2002, my mother died of metastatic breast cancer at 47. Then 17, I was in my second-period English class because my mother — a family physician from Barrouallie with whom I had a not-unoccasionally-fraught relationship — could not, for whatever reason, bring herself to tell her children that she was dying. Death positivity, death doulas, the green burial movement — none of that existed in accessible-to-her ways at the time, and I feel myself to be still in the wake of resolution's absence.
"The Roslyn Forbes-Adigweme Memorial Library" is a site of reflection — on my first 17 years and most recent 17 years [which included experiences with intimate partner violence within my MFA community, rape, and my own diagnosis with and treatment for breast cancer at 32] — and, also, a site of divination through ancestral veneration, in which I examine her artifacts and our lineage in order to suss out what *she* might [have] wish[ed] for my next 17 years, what *I* might wish for myself.
Consequently, this project is also about the limits of “WellnessTM,” the accessibility of which depends on one’s socio-cultural positionality. With activities and amenities modeled after both my week-long 1998 stay in the adolescent girls' wing of an inpatient "behavioral treatment center" *and* my 2008 3-day/2-night stay at Ananda, a summer-palace-turned-spa in the foothills of the Himalayas, "The Roslyn Forbes-Adigweme Memorial Library," in this regard, is a spatial and performative exploration of the middle ground between an in-patient psychiatric facility and a luxury resort, between care and the need for surveillance or, if one can *afford* it, the perceived absence of surveillance.
As a place to read myself into being, the Library and my "residence" in it bring together bodies of knowledge centering specific black female experiences [e.g., feminist of color scholarship and literature, my mother's archive]. Placing my body in conversation with said archive highlights the material demands of being the sole keeper of said archive, which I must care *for* or care *about* lest it be lost.
Over the last 17 years, I have thought often of how my mother — a workaholic who clawed herself out of rural Caribbean poverty through the superhuman achievement of a lot of "firsts" [including being the first case of breast cancer in a family in which women typically live to ripe old ages] — worked herself to death or, perhaps a better way to put it, was worked to death by a system of institutions and people who, to quote the writer Kiese Laymon's book Heavy: An American Memoir, “always assumed black women would recover but never really cared if black women recovered." This installation is an intentionally structured reprieve in which I am allowing myself the time and space to mourn, rest, and think about my own recovery from the types of traumas with which black women especially are supposed to "just deal." In opening it to the public, I hope to facilitate conversations among participant-visitors about self-care and restorative interpersonal entanglements which dig past surface notions of there being a way to buy or ignore one's way out of burnout.”