After months of planning, the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities presented "Literature vs. Traffic" on Oct. 23. The one-night-only installation by Luzinterruptus, an anonymous art collective based in Spain, "paved" Ann Arbor's Liberty Street with more than 10,000 illuminated books.
Crowds gathered to view "Literature vs. Traffic," which was part of the institute's 2018-19 theme "Humanities and Environments.” The installation took eight days to create, bringing together more than 80 community volunteers who assisted the artists in preparing the books and lights in the Ruthven Museums Building.
The books, which took five hours to install on Tuesday morning, were donated by community members, businesses and organizations including Aunt Agatha's Bookstore, the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Club, various U-M departments, and individual community members such as art history professor Patricia Simons, history professor Geoff Eley and professor emerita Regina Morantz-Sanchez.
Luzinterruptus is known for carrying out urban interventions in public spaces, having previously installed "Literature vs. Traffic" in Madrid, Toronto, Melbourne and New York. Ann Arbor is the first Midwestern "college town" to host the installation, according to Institute for the Humanities curator Amanda Krugliak.
"It was incredibly exciting to host the project here, bringing Ann Arbor into an international conversation with other rich cultural centers," Krugliak said. "It reminds us we are a community that values knowledge, education and the arts—remaining open to diverse perspectives and new information that enlightens us."
Passersby were encouraged to take books home with them. According to the Institute for the Humanities, the remaining books will be re-donated to senior centers and the Detroit Public Library in the coming week. In addition, the 20,000 LED lights in the installation will be donated to this weekend's Ypsi Glow Fest.