Inspired by the complex legacy of the California Gold Rush, artist duo Bik Van der Pol explores the historic role and contemporary relevance of libraries in San Francisco’s civic life.

Known as Bik Van der Pol, the Dutch artist duo Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol have worked in a variety of forms to  explore how ideas and cultural symbols are made public and the conditions under which that takes place. Through performance, publications, videos, and objects, their projects work with archives and collections, while others are about particular places and local histories. Over the past twenty years the Rotterdam-based pair have realized dozens of projects around the world, examining a range of issues including air rights regulations in New York City (As Above So Below, 2011), participatory democracy in Porto Alegre, Brazil (What if the Moon Were Just a Jump Away?, 2013), and memorials to the 1980 uprising in Gwangju, Korea (How Does a Straight Line Feel, 2016). Their work typically involves facilitating dialogue among residents or participants, in this way identifying histories or relationships that might symbolize how “the public” takes shape in a given context, and then creating a form (often a performance) in which this can be made visible and experienced. For Public Knowledge they plan to explore how a public for knowledge has been, is, and may be possible in a city such as San Francisco.