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Re: Artist's Books



Asking one to define artists' books on a Friday afternoon is a cruel thing
indeed, but I will take a stab at an answer.  In short, there is no accepted
definition.  I tend to work from the notion that if the creator SAYS that is is
an artists' book, than darn it it is one.  Whether or not I actualy accept that
the object/book in question is my perogative.  (Said Ayn Rand, with a sneer).

It is quit a sticky issue, really.  It (defining) the books, goes hand in hand
with the problem of where/how to display them.  The National Museum of Women in
the Arts always has an exhibit of this nature in their library.  Do they belong
 in the library, or should they be in the museum.  Should they be under glass,
or does that undermine their entire purpose for being?  I must say, however,
that John Cage's metal and wire "books" certainly belong behind ropes.  It is,
after al, all fun and games until someone loses an eye!

I presented a paper a couple of years ago on the problematic nature of trying
to display artists' books.  The conference organizers saw the word "book" in
my paper title, and promptly sceduled me in a forum on literature.  While it
was fun to reach (and i believe that i did give some of them some food for
thought), the whole notion of artists' books was difficult to cmprehend for
those who see books as nothing more than the carriers of the really important
stuff, i.e. THE LITERATURE.  Keeps life interesting, eh?

Rebecca Stone
American University Library,
Washington, DC


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