Prior to visiting the Info Centre project, you may acquaint yourself with the space by visiting their website (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/infoc). There, on simple, clear pages, you can look at line drawings of the space by Henriette Heise, who set up Info Centre with Jakob Jakobsen. The site also provides details of various publications, which you can browse at the centre, but not virtually. As with many other websites, you can skim the surface, look at book or magazine covers and read the blurbs, but any attempt to move in deeper is frustrated.
Thus, in order fully to interact with the Info Centre project, a journey is necessary. On the top floor of a nondescript building, you find a small lobby, where, on the night I visited, home-brewed beer was being served. Leading off it is the main project space, in which orange formica counters display a range of reading material, whilst posters and notifications of other publishing projects are pinned to the wall. Within this narrow area (overlooking the speedway antics on the main road below), visitors are able to read at leisure material that includes artists' publications such as Art-Language, newspapers like Crash Media, and the journals Inventory and Transmission.
Heise and Jakobsen's interest in the space (mental and physical) was informed by their artistic practice and the associated activity of publishing. Through their belief that publications may function as diverse spaces for the practice of artists (and activists), Heise and Jakobsen opened the Info Centre for its first show in May, exhibiting the publications of the London Psycho-geographical Society. While this exhibition was predominantly text-based, they also presented a collaborative project, Free State Almere (1998), between architect Birgitte Louise Hansen and artist Joep van Lieshout for the design of an environment founded on illegal activities, and Television (1998), a video piece by Heise.
For the second show, Info Centre has assumed more of a reading room's attributes with the addition of another orange formica table, and the display of solely text-based material. Pursuing their agenda of participation in the spaces of the London art world, Heise and Jakobsen have integrated their own publication Infotainment into the other publications on display. Believing the project to be a way of giving something back to their community, their act of reciprocation manifests itself as a space unlike any other in London - perhaps the most amenable reading environment since the now defunct Serpentine Gallery book shop in Warren Street. Unless you have privileged access to the libraries of art schools, galleries or museums, there is no facility available for easily accessing literature produced by artists. So, in a sense, Info Centre assumes the democratic stature of historical spaces such as the reading rooms established for workers by the Russian avant-garde after the Revolution, or the easy access afforded by the display of newspapers on walls, which still exists in Germany today. It is ironic that while the British Arts Council launches a funding programme to entice new audiences to the arts, Info Centre is developing an alternative access to artistic practices. Surely it is not the audience, but the accessibility of the artistic practice that should be attended to - something that Info Centre is quietly considering.