11 January 2013

conceptual art and subject headings

SACO can be fun and also frustrating. I submitted a proposal for a new subject heading "Grandparents in art" based on Gia Michael's My bitter immortal, her BFA final project in the School of Art and Design at Alfred. The colophon states that "All images for this publication were collected by the artist while traveling in Lebanon and Syria, December 2009 through February 2010." The Editorial Meeting rejected the proposal because "The work cataloged does not depict grandparents in art, but consists of pictures of the places through which the photographer's maternal grandparents passed." But it's the CONCEPT of grandparents and it's art.

But as I was having those thoughts, I remembered a discussion with Lynn El-Hoshy, LC subject specialist now retired, about "Cellphones in art." She was right in that case: it was "Cellphone calls in art," not "Cellphones in art." I was very glad we had the discussion because it clarified for me that, in LCSH, "in art" is literal. That is, the topic is shown in the art, it's pictures of or text about that topic as it appears in art.

But but conceptual art, naturally, doesn't come in literal packages. I still think it's grandparents in art but the LCSH editors indicated that it was just wrong. Sometimes they suggest that something is misdirected and can be revised and resubmitted. I guess I'll just have to publish a picture book of my grandparents. Then, I can resubmit the proposal and, meanwhile, I haven't changed it on the bibliographic record yet.

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