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Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
- From: leil lucy alexander <leilx@OLYMPUS.NET>
- Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 23:52:03 -0800
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- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: The list for all the book arts!" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
I myself am tempted strongly to say that craft is an important part of an
artist's book--one thing that has annoyed me a great deal is the lack of
interest in and attention to craft, resulting in otherwise wonderful
artist's books being either impossible to handle, or not sturdy (when that
was not intended by the artist) or just plain inappropriate to the content.
I think that craft is underrated in book arts. many painters, potters,
sculpters, drawers, printmakers, poets have learned the craft of their art
form before going on to stretch it or make great works or art. no subtle
shame is attached to any of that. still, I have sometimes found among book
arts students a disdain for the craft related to books--printing and
binding, among others--a sense that craft is limiting or just plain not
relevant! I find craft sets a person free, and gives a solid base to work
from. however, I have seen some very effective books which were made in
ways I wouldn't do and I know several book artists who are not interested
in the craft of books at all.
I would love to hear other people's ideas on the topic of craft and art
(which I find a spurious distinction, but sometimes useful) and how they
work for or against each other in book arts. also if people are interested
in the craft of it if they came from other disciplines and how they
I think intent is important, but it isn't all. there is a line, to me
anyway, somewhere between artist's books and other forms of art (this is
another pet peeve left from last year). I think that some book shaped
objects are not books at all, and I don't care what the artist thinks or
intended. (however, I would never tell an artist that about their work. my
opinion is strictly mine and i am sure some of my work could fall into the
BSO catagory.) I do think there is value in making "regular" sort of books
before going into book shaped objects. I found that some people who skipped
that step seem to feel that they were doing the more "out there" work, and
those of us who work more in traditional forms are taking the "easy" way
two things that seemed to be reasonably consensed upon when I was in school
was narrative impulse and sequentiality and that elusive bookness. however,
a lot of pieces had none or little of these.
the whether to define question is a hard one, but I still think it has
merit. what I find is that if I don't do some defining, someone else, who
might or even probably knows less than me will do it instead and that is
maddening. and I think for students (having recently been one myself), that
looking at books is the best, and being given perhaps a working definition,
or a definition in progress (with that stated, so it isn't taken as
static), and the chance to develop one's own over time was very helpful.
also, for me at least, a solid base in the technical aspects. endless
discussions and going round and round about it gets boring, quick.
fascinating discussion! this is what I was looking for when I first came to
=8A Say that a hut,
south facing in the hundred-mile winds,
comprises ten thousand terrified hunks of stone.
from "Sonnet for Constituents Not Permitted"
_Arms wide, eyes open_ by Annie Stenzel
firstname.lastname@example.org leil lucy alexander