Reading Room #31: Fred Dewey and Walter Benjamin

The fourth in a new series of Reading Rooms around the library of the American thinker and organiser Fred Dewey, a collective reading and discussion taking as a point of departure Walter Benjamin’s Archives (2011)
23/04/2024, 18-20:30h

“People are more willing to talk … when they’re sharing something deeply meaningful with each other. That’s why poetry becomes the foundation of a new kind of dialogue.” (Fred Dewey)

Dewey had a fierce commitment to creating public spaces for intellectual and political engagement. His home base was Los Angeles, but the last years of his life he spent in Brussels. In 2022 Dewey died unexpectedly. To ensure the continuation of his legacy, the Fred Dewey Legacy Project was initated, aiming to set up initiatives that extend Dewey’s work, as well as preserve his considerable library.

Summer 2023 artists Filip van Dingenen and Hélène Meyer re-installed part of Dewey’s extensive library. They are opening up his collection of books to artists and researchers from their studio home. One way to activate this library is Jubilee’s 2024 Reading Room program. This program performs a collective knowledge transfer – using the library as a situated research tool from which each Jubilee artist can select a title and propose it for a collective reading and discussion session.

After the section of books devoted to Hannah Arendt, of whom Fred Dewey was a specialist, the one with the most references is the section dedicated to Walter Benjamin. “I have nothing to say. Just to show.” Taking up Walter Benjamin’s famous formula, we look at a book dedicated to his archives. This reference work was published in 2006 in its German version and in 2011 in its French version. In this reading room, Vincent Meessen approaches Benjamin as an archivist. Meessen explains also his own method of research, collection and editing. He gives an initial overview of the role and first results of his investigations into various archival holdings with in view of writing a film about the German thinker.

This reading room is proposed by Vincent Meessen

Calendar of Fred Dewey Reading Rooms

23 January: Reading Room #28: Fred Dewey and School of Public Life proposed by Filip Van Dingenen
13 February: Reading Room #29: Fred Dewey and The Ignorant Schoolmaster proposed by Clémentine Vaultier
23 April: Reading Room #31: Fred Dewey and Walter Benjamin proposed by Vincent Meessen
21 May: Reading Room #32 proposed by Ciel Grommen, Maxiliaan Royakkers and Clémentine Vaultier (of the project Atlas of Ovens)
11 June: Reading Room #33 proposed by Louise de Bethune

Each reading room takes place from 18-20:30h. Soup and bread will be provided


Location Reading Room #31:


Celador is a space for writing, reading, speaking. Run collectively by a reading group, Celador organises a public programme.
Avenue Jef Lambeauxlaan 23, 1060 Brussels