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Re: [BKARTS] Drucker Article



I guess one of the things that always makes me wonder when looking at book art is where the line is drawn when in regard to books that follow a more formal structure and books that incorporate materials and take on shapes that defy/extend what is typically thought of as a book. In a recent book art exhibit, I brought a friend who collects all kinds of artwork, and she remarked that she wouldn't even describe several of the works as books and wondered what made them so? That made me think, are they books because the artist says so? Sort of a "Ce n'est pas une pipe." kinda of a thing? Some of the books were definitely "flashy" but to me lacked anything else that really held my attention.

I think of that in my own work where the notion of a book is stretched so that I question myself. For me, that is part of the challenge and fun of exploring an idea, but I can see how someone might wonder what is happening in regard to structure and form and the "bookiness" of a work. That may result in a need to protect the form in some way so that eventually the works end up being more of an "anything" rather than something that could be connected with the book world.

Is the goal to exhibit in a "regular" gallery? I would hope that if a work is appropriate for a show it gets in regardless of whether it is a print, a drawing, a painting, sculpture or a book. I think the mutual admiration and preferential treatment exists everywhere (not even in just the art community), but I realize that books may be at a disadvantage. I don't know why.

I have a question, does it bother anyone on the list is an artist just makes a book? I mean, artist John Doe, who has never made a book, taken a class, really looked at artists books, or book art (however you want to call it), makes a book. It gets into a show, and no one from this list is too impressed  -- maybe because the artist hired a book artist to sew it and therefore, didn't do it him/herself, maybe because it was sloppily done because they did do it themselves and didn't worry about the correct tools and methods, maybe because they called it a book and it isn't a book to you. What goes through your mind when you see something like that? Is it sort of like...well, once they bought a Mac, they all thought they were designers--my own personal work hell as I work in a place where everyone has become a critic, a designer, a usability specialist, and all around super artist right before my very eyes (bitter, me, yeah, okay, you got me).

My other question, do participants on this list call themselves book artists, artists who made books, or just artists or even craftsmen? Where are you drawing your own line?

That article had a lot of things going on in it and I found that I didn't agree with much of what I read, so I decided to put it down and return to it a few weeks later to see if my views had changed. Maybe it's time for that reread, but I wanted to throw my random thoughts out there. Hopefully some of this made sense.

Thanks for you time,
Jennifer



-----Original Message-----
From: RLavadour <paper@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Jun 3, 2005 12:09 PM
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [BKARTS] Drucker Article

I've finally read and am digesting Johanna Drucker's article in the latest
issue of The Bonefolder and hope that the discussion started a couple
weeks ago continues on list.

As the number of qualifiers in her article point out,
the "artist's book" community has build a warm fuzzy mutual
admiration society that doesn't allow for much serious criticism (in
public).
The double edged sword in fostering vigorous criticism is that we risk being
told our work doesn't measure up - something artists in other media risk all
the time.
The nurturing environment has also fostered some really wonderful work.

If the new critics come from a pool of book arts practitioners, the cry of
sour grapes or favoritism (given the incestuous factions of practitioners)
is always there. Even most curators are heavily involved in the community of
artists they're collecting. (This isn't an attack on others...if anyone has
benefited
from warm fuzzy incestuous-ness, it's me)  Alternately, I'm interested to
know
if established art critics are moving towards looking at and writing about
artists' books. It's rare to see anything in Art in America or even the
British
art publications.

There are a few artists in the NW who are exhibiting books in contemporary
art galleries as opposed to strictly the library circuit, but the collectors
(of art in general, not book art) haven't caught up. I asked a prominent
collector
who has a blue chip print collection (among MANY other works) if he
collected
any artist's books (by other artists, wasn't promoting my work) and he
looked
at me as if I'd suggested he add a few Beanie Babies to the mix.

One thing that would help us look at work more critically would be to do
away with jurying from slides. That's what allows pieces with flashy
structures to dominate the exhibit landscape, sometimes at the expense of
better works that may not translate well in a slide - especially when
an artist's statement isn't allowed.

Of course, most discussions end in the old conundrum...how can people become
passionate about collecting books - and gaining enough hands-on (literally)
experience to start thinking and writing about them critically - if we
exhibit work
under glass? It reminds me of the scene in Young Frankenstein on the train
platform when Madeleine Kahn is sending-off Gene Wilder. She's being
extremely titillating until the second he actually tries to touch her, then
she jerks back.."oh, the hair, watch the hair!"

Thoughts?

all the best,
Roberta

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             For all your subscription questions, go to the
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          See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
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