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Grayson James: After Alexandria

October 30 – December 8, 2019
Student Gallery  

I became interested in this project at a point in my life when I was experiencing a loneliness unlike any I had before. As an avid reader, I found myself turning to literature to mitigate these feelings. I began to read books almost exclusively borrowed from the library. These books were marked-up, damaged, dog-eared, and coffee-stained. It is through the bodily experience of encountering other readers through the traces that they left behind that I began to think of these books as a medium through which I was able to engage with others. Their notes had gravity, reminding me that as alone as I might feel, I am actually part of a broader conversation, of a micro-history, and of a community that supports me in ways that are impossible to articulate.

After Alexandria hopes to recreate this experience. Leading up to and throughout the exhibition, people are invited to recommend books to me that in some way relate to their experiences of loneliness (for example, a book you read while lonely, or one you enjoyed about loneliness, or made you feel less lonely). I will then reproduce these books and bring them into the gallery, creating our own library. The books will be available for anyone to read, to write in, or, if so inclined, to bring home for themselves. A workspace with pens, pencils, and Post-it notes will be provided, so that readers can intervene in the books how they choose. I will intermittently photocopy some of these interventions, and hang them on the gallery wall. Viewers are invited to photocopy and hang interventions as well, creating a collaborative installation that indexes the ways these books become containers of a shared social experience.  At the end of the exhibition, I will document a selection of these interventions, and produce a new publication from them. 

With this project, I aim to find a kind of reading that is done in solidarity, not in solitude, and to celebrate the ways in which objects that are owned and shared by the public become beautiful because they are used, not in spite of this fact.

Books can be recommended to me via email at There will be a recommendation box in the gallery, if you would rather leave me a note. The library will be updated once a week.



Opening Party for Grayson James: After Alexandria
Wednesday, October 30, 6–8 pm

Artist Tour and Drop-in Workshop 
Saturday, November 16, 12–3 pm

Artist Tour and Drop-in Workshop
Saturday, November 30, 12-3 pm

Artist Talk: Grayson James
Saturday, December 7, 1–1:30 pm

Exhibition Tours
Daily 2:30 pm

All events take place at The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre), unless otherwise noted

Layered images of hands turning the pages of a book, holding a paper and making gestures, with black tape afixing the images to one another
Fig. 1

Grayson James, A Damaged Book/Learning How To Bind (detail), 2018, architecture prints, found objects, tracing paper, laser prints, inkjet prints. Courtesy of the artist

Artist Bio

Grayson James

Grayson James is an artist and writer working in Toronto. James’ work, First a Radical, and Second, an Optimist, was shown at Crutch Contemporary Art Centre in February 2019. James is co-director at Bunker 2 in Toronto, and runs a publishing imprint called Successful Press.

Installation Shots

Fig. 1

Grayson James: After Alexandria (installation view), 2019 © James Morley, The Image Centre

Fig. 2

Grayson James: After Alexandria (installation view), 2019 © James Morley, The Image Centre

Fig. 3

Grayson James: After Alexandria (installation view), 2019 © James Morley, The Image Centre