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Re: [BKARTS] A Queer/GLBTQI Theoretical Analysis of Artists' Books and Book Arts

The "marginalization" or perhaps lack of recognition/acknowledgement of the book arts by the art establishment was something that was discussed at length several years ago when Johanna Drucker's article "Critical Issues / Exemplary Works" that was published in the Bonefolder, <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder/vol1no2contents.htm>. There was quite a discussion of that article and follow-ups on the list, see Drucker in <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder/vol1no2contents.htm> and Martin in <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder/vol2no2contents.htm>. Central themes were art vs. craft (again), the opinions of some in this community that their work should not be judged by outsiders, and just who is this "establishment" and why should we pander to them. It is the latter two that I feel are the more critical to our discussion, though I'm sure the art vs. craft issue is alive and well too.

From my "editor's postscript" in Vol 1, No 2:
Ms. Drucker's original article in Vol.1, No. 2, of this journal unleashed a number of responses, two of which are published in this issue of the Bonefolder, as well as a very spirited discussion that took place on the Book_Arts-L listserv and on several classroom blogs. As may be inferred Ms Drucker's article touched a nerve, especially regarding the issue of criticism and distinctions among the types of works and groups producing those works, but also about the need to be able to describe and explain one's work. A core aspect of the article is the Artists' Books Online metadata project in which an xml based schema is being developed to help describe artist's books holistically from the process of creation to the item in hand. When implemented, this will provide a very rich database facilitating research and the deeper discussion of artist's books as a genre and artform. As the online discussion developed, it was interesting to see artist's themselves begin to describe their work and adapt the schema to a simple template which would accompany works when sold or exhibited providing information vital to the proper description of these books in library catalogs and other descriptive tools. It is the editors' hope that this discussion continues to contribute to the greater understanding of the book arts.

These discussions can be found in the June 2005 archives of Book_Arts-L listserv, <http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/bookarts/2005/06/threads.html>, using among other subject lines such as Drucker Article, Druckergate and "Drucker's Gate," and ultimately in July of 2005 under "Artist Book Information Sheet," <http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/bookarts/2005/07/threads.html>.

That's all the gasoline I have for now. Someone else please (civily) throw the match.


At 02:02 AM 4/10/2009, Steven Carter wrote:
Book Arts cannot be thought of as marginalized in the same way that the queer community has been. For starters making books is simply one means of artistic expression. It is not so deeply intertwined with identity as sexual orientation. I would think it would be an insult to the queer community to try to place them on similar ground. The one is a learned art, skill, practice, action (whatever you want to call it); the other is something of far greater import and consequence in society. My intention is not to scorn Book Arts here, but I've never heard of anyone being disowned, publicly ridiculed, even killed for making books. Perhaps if the books were inflammatory in some way that would be one thing, but the mere action of making books has by no means created any waves in the world community and society at large. Book Arts may be snubbed by a few (or many) critics, but it's not as though anybody is going to picket so that artist's will stop making books. The Art World doesn't care that much. To say "Book Arts are ignored by the Art World," may be a true statement. But there is a vast difference between an artistic expression (not an individual) being ignored or even criticized, and a group of people being accepted or not accepted, hated or loved (in the most conclusive and drastic sense) by society and the world based on behavior that is linked deeply to identity and life itself. It's like trying to draw a comparison between telemarketers and snoring. Yes, they can both get on your nerves, but other than that, there's not much basis for comparison.


Peter D. Verheyen
Bookbinder & Conservator, PA - AIC
The Book Arts Web & Book_Arts-L Listserv
The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist

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