Svg patterns

In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of new journals emerged across Europe. This explosion of print was a reaction to the years of privation and lack of cultural contact between nations. It also responded to public discussion about what might now constitute a ‘European’ identity – an issue central to processes of reconstruction and reconciliation in the post-war period.

Translations were an important component of many journals. They introduced readers to foreign movements, concepts and writers, increasing awareness of cultural similarities and differences and forged alliances across national borders. This exhibition brings together a number of these magazines and highlights the overlooked and mostly unacknowledged translators.

The translators who worked for these journals are remarkable individuals. Some had been ‘silenced’ by censorship in the interwar period. Many were refugees, displaced by war, who used their knowledge of foreign languages to gain a foothold in a post-war world. All were talented figures, passionately committed to the transnational circulation of ideas. They understood that dialogue across cultural, political and linguistic divides was an essential precondition for peace and prosperity in Europe.

This exhibition has been curated by Alison E. Martin, JGU Mainz/Germersheim, Germany and Andrew Thacker, Nottingham Trent University.

Complementing the exhibition The Serving Library v David Osbaldeston, here we present available copies of a family of publications that continue to feed The Serving Library’s archive of objects; each item in the gallery is the source of an illustration that usually triggered an essay in one of the journals on display.

Founded in 2000 in Amsterdam by graphic designers Peter Bilak, Stuart Bailey, Jurgen X Albrecht and Tom Unverzagt, Dot Dot Dot was published biannually for 20 issues over 10 years, gradually drifting from its founding subject to sprawl across the humanities according to the ebb and flow of its editorial makeup. Albrecht and Unverzagt left after the third issue and David Reinfurt supplanted Bilak in the mid-2000s.

In 2011, Bailey, Reinfurt and Angie Keefer established The Serving Library as a non-profit institution in New York to explore the new possibilities afforded by digital publishing, at which point Dot Dot Dot morphed into the institution’s house journal Bulletins of The Serving Library. The enterprise continues to be powered by, a website that simultaneously distributes and archives component ‘bulletins’ in distinct online and print formats. These bulletins comprise essays and related contributions, assembled and released each season on common themes such as time, psychedelia, fashion, sports, colour and perspective. For practical and conceptual reasons the last three print editions of Bulletins of The Serving Library shrank to half that of the original format.

Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey joined the editorial team in 2016 and helped set up a physical incarnation of The Serving Library in Liverpool as a base for teaching with a regular public programme of talks and events, then in 2017 the name and format changed once more to yield its current incarnation as Serving Library Annual – a hefty A4 volume now published every autumn. This year’s instalment, hot off the press, speaks to the subject of translation.

Featured Items

Ahead of the exhibition we’ll be highlighting just a few of the 100+ framed objects that make up The Serving Library collection over on our blog, along with the accompanying text from TSL’s website.