Library Excavations #13: Indoor Dining
Author: Marc Fischer and Public Collectors
Publisher: Public Collectors (2021)
Edition of 500
"This issue of Library Excavations draws on details of photos from 1980s issues of the food industry periodicals Institutions, Restaurants & Institutions, Quick Frozen Foods, and Restaurant Management. It was inspired in part by Erving Goffman’s book Gender Advertisements about advertising and gender stereotyping. For my part, I added examples of sexual innuendo, racial stereotyping, and capitalist surrealism, all of which were common in 1980s ads.
I started this issue back in January 2020 by scanning reference magazines at Harold Washington Library in Chicago. Then COVID-19 happened and everything shut down. I didn’t have enough material for a publication and the booklet no longer made sense to me.
By April 2021 I was vaccinated so I went back to Harold Washington to resume my project. It felt so good to see the librarians and staff again. COVID-19 has changed libraries, and I’m grateful to all of the workers that have kept these spaces open, often at considerable personal cost.
In the year+ since I started this issue, the food industry has been fully transformed by the pandemic. Nearly 200 Chicago restaurants have closed forever, including many near the library. Restaurants constructed strange new outdoor, semi-enclosed eating spaces. Our entire relationship to indoor dining has changed. When I took a fresh look at the material I collected, these images resonated for me in new ways. Right now, however, I still prefer to dine at home."
Library Excavations is a project and publication series by Public Collectors that highlights and activates physical materials found in public libraries. Library Excavations encourages intensive browsing of paper and print resources, particularly those that are under-utilized, or at risk of being withdrawn and discarded. During the COVID-19 pandemic, excavations have moved to the digital realm of public storage. More findings are shared regularly on Instagram: @libraryexcavations