Installation artist Chris Cobb‘s “There Is Nothing Wrong in This Whole Wide World” involved reclassifying the books at the Mission District’s Adobe Books — by color. Cobb, along with nearly 20 assistants, spent an entire night arranging all of the neighborhood bookstore-and-sometime-gallery’s estimated 20,000 books to create a continuous spectrum, covering the whole shop. The installation remained in place from November 12, 2004 until January 20, 2005. Spark checked in on Cobb and his team as they transformed an everyday space into a stunning work of art.
Adobe was a carefully chosen site for Cobb, who saw his project as a tribute to the shop’s endurance as a kind of resource and community center for book lovers and artists. In the 15 years since Adobe first opened its doors, it has become a launching pad for many young, up-and-coming San Francisco artists and musicians. By turning the shop itself into a work of art, Cobb wished to pay tribute to the store’s history and to celebrate its future.
Installation art differs from more traditional forms in that it is concerned with the alteration of an entire space rather than the production of an isolated object. Part of the lyricism of Cobb’s project at Adobe came from the fact that the artist has neither added nor taken away anything in the bookstore, but merely rearranged what was already there to create a completely dreamlike space.
Adobe Books employee Shi Ananda, who assisted in reshelving the books when the installation ended, noted that blue-colored books sold the most, brown books were most often stolen and red books tended to remain on the shelves. There were more white books in the store than any other color, whereas very few books were colored yellow.
Cobb earned a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently studying in the graduate art practice program at the University of California, Berkeley.
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