Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ten Years of Artists' Books

At the Brooklyn Public Library

I wish I could get to this new show at the Brooklyn Public Library, curated by Donna Seager of Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, California. First, I love that a gallery curates a show for a library, already colliding a couple spaces that need more collision and collusion. Second, it's a fine collection of artists working with/on/against/for books in multiple ways. In a small collection of objects, some of the range of what we call "artists' books" can be seen.

Third, and bringing me to the interests of this blog, are the myriad religious references. I've known Meg Hitchcock's work for a few years and am especially fond of her abilities to find connections between the texts of the western religious traditions, while the cost of making the connections is the cutting up of the books, an act that could be seen as desecrating.

Other religious borrowings include Islam Aly who adopts a history of Quranic bookmaking and calligraphy for his political piece on Tahrir Square. Julie Chen devises an accordion book with a sort of spiritual journey invoked. Lisa Kokin self-consciously creates a "page" of Karl Marx's Das Capital in the format of a leaf of sacred text, or perhaps ritual cloth. And Elizabeth Sher's "Blog" borrows the format of torah scrolls and placing them in what looks like a coffin.

The well-photographed objects of the exhibition are available in the catalog available in non-book form at ISSUU. Well worth a leaf through.

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