The Contemporary Jewish Museum is temporarily closed. Learn more

Contemporary ArtLiterature

Bound to Be Held: A Book Show

Mar 26, 2015–Jun 28, 2015

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents a solo exhibition of the work of San Francisco-based conceptual artist Josh Greene. Bound to be Held: A Book Show celebrates the relationship between a reader and a book and extends Greene’s career-long interest in instigating social interaction among people.

about the exhibition

Read By Famous

The exhibition, in two parts, includes a selection from Greene’s ongoing work Read by Famous. Since 2013, Greene has asked a wide range of well-known and successful people to pluck meaningful books from their shelves and donate them to the project. Each affirms that he or she has personally read that copy and provides accompanying notes about why the book was meaningful or important.

For the exhibition, a sampling of twenty-five of these books are on the gallery wall, alongside photographs of inscriptions, notes, annotations, and other markings that the book donors have made. On view are contributions from Gavin Newsom (Make it in America by Andrew Liveris), Isiah Thomas (The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X), Jill Soloway (Valencia by Michelle Tea), Junot Díaz (The Earth by Arthur Beiser, from the publishers of Life Magazine’s Nature Library series), and many more. Greene plans to auction the books through the website to benefit literacy campaigns.

The Library of Particular Significance

The second part of the project is called The Library of Particular Significance, consisting of approximately one thousand books donated by the general public, also with statements about the donors’ relationship to a specific book. Visitors can browse the shelves, which Greene periodically rearranges at whim by such organizing principles as donors’ zodiac signs and more. A special card catalog with further information is also available. 

The Library of Particular Significance functioned as a lending library, so visitors could temporarily check out books. A variety of reading events took place inThe Library during the run of the exhibition.

gallery photos
about josh greene

Born in 1971 in Santa Monica, CA, Josh Greene has exhibited widely including at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, the Nelson Gallery at UC Davis, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and more. He holds an MFA from the California College of the Arts where he is currently an adjunct professor. Greene works in the conceptual art tradition with a focus on public actions and interchange. His projects have included Service-Works, a monthly grant of his tips earned as a waiter to various artists’ projects; Sophie Calle’s Bed, in which Greene requested and received the bed of Sophie Calle, in order to help him through a grieving process; Unlicensed Therapist, where he was the co-creator of an unlicensed therapy practice that was shut down by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; and more. Greene has also addressed issues surrounding the distribution of wealth by selling money for less than face value and placing the entire contents of his apartment on sale, among other actions.

in the library of PARTICULAR significance

On May Day in 2015, filmmaker Craig Baldwin led an interactive gallery happening within The Library of Particular Significance. Watch his full performance (it involves nine books and nine eye glasses!). Recorded by Cyrus Tabar. 


Bound to Be Held: A Book Show is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Major sponsorship for this exhibition is provided by an Anonymous donor and Gaia Fund. Participating sponsorship is provided in honor of Robert and Patricia Nelson.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: Josh Greene, photo by Gary Sexton Photography.