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Re: [BKARTS] Impressions from Action/Interaction



Hi Amy,

"And so Cointet's example makes it clear that
complex undercurrents remain in art history, still lacking sufficient
feedback, requiring another deep breath." - Jay Sanders


I wonder if 'our own very specific issues' in our talk about book art, sometimes work as insulation against the feedback that Jay Sanders mentions. I don't mean that those book-centric issues are irrelevant; quite the opposite. I think we're too often guilty of not pursuing our observations of books' qualities as far as we could, of not connecting them up to their wider relevance. Notions of 'intimacy', for example, are often discussed when we talk about books, but we don't usually link that up with wider observations about how, say, the intimacy of readership lives alongside the experience of living in a city where one is often anonymous, where social intimacy is a thing mediated in forms other than those we encounter in books.

It's interesting that the artists we've mentioned in this tiny discussion
are ones for whom books were part of a wider practice. Although I can see
how artists could use the push-pull of different media (including books) in
their practice to explore the issues that are important to them, I'd like to
believe (as someone for whom books are the center of his practice) that
books alone - as the sole medium that I present my work as - could assemble
and present the various bits of discourse I'm interested in pursuing,
provided with sufficient reflection and action on my behalf.

Or, (and I hope this isn't the case), has the artists' book throughout its
history always been simply a valuable sideshow to the work that takes place
center-stage? It reflects the other art that's going on. Does it add
anything at all to the various avant-gardes it has been associated with? Can
books alone cut it? It's a red herring to suppose that anything is alone in
that sense, but does working with/on/about books provide a big enough, open
enough platform to reflect and comment on the world at large? Or is it too
reverential a space? To referential a space with its social history and its
powerful, socially-constructed aura of 'book'?

Or... (and I hope this is the case), could it be that we're not done with
what books can be yet, that we're not done with what authors and readers can
be, and that we can keep the jaws of the book forced open? Perhaps this
notion of opening up definitions of author and reader does suppose that the
roles taken on by both are necessarily 'portfolio roles', comprised of
different capabilities and references from outside the book.

I think that the attraction of books as a part of a wider practice has to do
with the notion of artists' books as a space where roles are multiplied,
combined, swapped, transformed. Cointet, a sort of playwright, turns
publisher, turns (inscrutably) author. There's a mode of reflection offered
in books that adds a dimension to his work, of codification, of
transformability (if only one could but crack the code of the work's being
recorded in this manner.) As readers, our attention flits from performance
to book and back again, seeking a system of relations between the one and
the other. The frustration is part of the fun.

Does it matter very much if a book artist encourages the reader to glance at
the relations  between her/his book and something that already exists that
isn't their work? If we make a book about architecture, we don't have to be
architects, right?

To get the "deep breath", the "feedback" that Jay Sanders is writing about,
we need to point to things in the world in our books, and when we're talking
to people about them, we need to make it clear that that is actually their
purpose. When we talk about books as art works,  the "book arts" are there
to help us facilitate what the books actually do; they're not an end in
themselves. Yes, we need technical abilities to do a good job, and it makes
a lot of sense to have a strong lobby for traditional book forms to keep the
ideas and references of 'book' alive and available. (The practical tools I
use to work on my ideas wouldn't exist if they weren't taught to me by
experts who really care about how books are made.) But they aren't why
I'minterested in making artists' books. What matters to me is the way
that
books can refer to the world, either elsewhere in our own practice, or
somewhere else.

We can boast, in books, with some validity, a platform that allows us to
reflect on the world from numerous angles. We can adopt many roles within
books, for example, as publisher, author, draftsman, printer, poet,
activist, fan, either separately or together. Most exciting for me though,
is the potential there is for inventing new roles. The concept of the book
isn't closed. The potential for books to take on new forms of reflection and
action (as well as revitalising old ones) exists. How do we do that? What
does it look like?

All the best,

Andrew Eason
www.andreweason.com

On 15/06/07, amy borezo <aborezo@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear Andrew,


>>What do you think these artists are/were doing that meant "the art
world"
is
interested in them? Or is it "the art world" that has changed? (I'm
starting
to regret those ""s now.)

I'm not sure the answer to this, really. I will offer up a few more
thoughts
regardless!  The coverage I notice in contemporary art magazines doesn't
deal with the "book art" aspect of the work in any way. I mean "book art"
as
a particular field which has its own set of very specific issues. It
simply
discusses the work as it would other artwork that involves a variety of
media. Again, I'm saying this in a purely observational way.

The artists I notice seem to include books as one part of their overall
practice, an overall practice which may include performance, installation,
painting, sculpture, etc.

Maybe the artmarket is so overheated that there is an appetite for obscure
work. The two artists I mentioned previously, are definitely obscure, and
yet are prominently featured in major art magazines. Jay Sanders, in
Artforum, puts it like this, "And so Cointet's example makes it clear that
complex undercurrents remain in art history, still lacking sufficient
feedback, requiring another deep breath."

very best, amy
shelter/Books

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               The Bonefolder, Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 2007
          Now Online @ <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder>

     Visit "The Book of Origins: A survey of American Fine Binding"
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***********************************************
The Bonefolder, Vol. 3, No. 2, Spring 2007
Now Online @ <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder>
Visit "The Book of Origins: A survey of American Fine Binding"
Online exhibit and catalog order form at
<http://library.syr.edu/digital/exhibits/b/bookoforigins/>
For all your subscription questions, go to the
Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
***********************************************



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