Archive for July 2015
For many years Queensland had a diversity of artists book activities: the bi-ennial Artspace Mackay Artists Book Forums and Libris Awards, the once yearly Noosa Artists Book Events and the Southern Cross University Acquisitive Artists Book Awards. Also contributing to this fertile artists book environment the State Library of Queensland’s Australian Library of Art which included the SLQ’s Siganto Foundation fellowships, ‘white glove’ presentations and events. Added to this were exhibitions and artists book fairs coordinated by Grahame Galleries and other shows at scattered venues. With the recent demise of the Mackay, Noosa and Southern Cross events their absence was felt by the artists book community. Now a new event has emerged to add to the SLQ and Grahame Galleries support of the art – the Artists Book Brisbane Event (ABBE). Over July 16, 17 and 18 ABBE featured a triptych of activities; a conference, an exhibition of books, an artists book fair and allied exhibition events at the State Library of Queensland, Grahame Galleries, The Studio West End, the IMA and Impress Printmakers Gallery.
The conference sought to address 3 main themes relating to the artists book:
- post literacy
- materiality/the haptic
- the nature of reading artists books.
Three keynote presenters lead the program:
- Sarah Bodman – Senior Research Fellow for Artists Books, CFPR editor of the Blue Notebook
- Brad Freeman – Founder and editor in chief of the Journal of Artist’s Books
- Dr Lyn Ashby – Australian artist and scholar making books
SARAH BODMAN (Abstract)– ARTISTS’ BOOKS AS A PHYSICAL SITE OF PRACTICE
If a post-Literate society might also encompass new ways of thinking about reading, we could think of contemporary artists’ books as a site of practice beyond that of McLuhan’s sign posting of the invention of moveable type as fundamentally responsible for how the Western world physically reads: “along the straight Lines of the printed page.”
We seem to have already moved from Linear to non-linear reading; we are used to flitting through digital screen-based texts, and losing our attention through a multitude of online multi-tasking. Physical engagement with artists’ books provides us with spaceto breathe, a slower rhythm of ingesting information and time to reflect, so what about the artists who are making them? How are artists engaging with the physical book now?
These examples focus on celebrating the book as a physical container used by artists to: re-present language, offer performative reading, view how reading is perceived, appropriate text from novels and instructional manuals into new works, or to transform information from the virtual into the physical.
BRAD FREEMAN (Abstract) – JOURNAL OF ARTISTS’ BOOKS
Brad Freeman’s Lecture focussed on JAB, the Journal of Artists’ Books, that supports critical inquiry into artists’ books. Since 1994 JAB has published interviews with contemporary artists whose primary medium is the artist book, reviews of artists’ books, and essays about historical issues and contemporary artists and their work. JAB has a two pronged approach to culture creation via publication arts; an educational approach with critical writing and documentation of current activity; and second, a creative approach with publication art-exploring the creative potential of print and the book by commissioning artists’ covers (letterpress and offset), artist designed pages, and artists’ books made especially for insertion into JAB.
LYN ASHBY (Abstract) – POSTLITERACY AND ARTISTSBOOKS: Coming to our senses with a modern mythic form
This presentation is a speculation on the idea that contemporary artistsbooks may be the laboratory for a new literacy, and that in honor of the quietly evolutionary nature of this new literacy, we might call it “postliteracy”.
As background, it explores how our centuries of standard literacy and its attendant conventions of pictorial space and chronological, narrative time, have privileged a specific code in the representations of our language systems (both image and text) and their operations across the page and through the book. The prescriptions of these conventions and the domination of the line and the grid onto the look of language have come to minimise the participation (and uncertainty) of the senses in the direct process of apprehending meaning with language forms.
But the pages of artistsbooks are often filled with the explorations of other ways that language forms can activate a lively, sensory involvement with the page space, or how meaning can be formulated beyond the limitations of chronology.
Some of these experiments involve the invocation of pre literate, oral language structures that work more by the devices and grammars of music, song and myth than the usual strategies of standard literacy. in this way, the contemporary artistsbook may be the hardcopy home of a modern, mythic form.
Presenting/Participating at the conference
- Lyn Ashby
- Sarah Bodman
- Sara Bowen
- Deidre Brollo
- Helen Cole
- Victoria Cooper
- Marian Crawford
- Daniel Della-Bosca
- Fiona Dempster
- Caren Florance
- Jenny Fraser
- Brad Freeman
- Angela Gardner
- Noreen Grahame
- Bridget Hillebrand
- Joel Lardner
- Marian Macken
- Tim Mosely
- Adele Outteridge
- Mikhail Pogarsky
- Doug Spowart
- Kym Tabulo
- Wim de Vos
- Gabriella Wilson
The ‘books by artists’ exhibitors
- Isaac Brown
- Penny Carey-Wells
- Victoria Cooper
- Caroline Craig
- Fiona Dempster
- Hesam Fetrati Angela Gardner
- Annique Goldenberg
- Alannah Gunter
- Institute of Modern Art Cassandra Lehman-Schultz
- Alison Mackay
- Judy Macklin
- Heather Matthew
- Tess Mehonoshen
- Christine Mellor
- Tim Mosely
- night ladder collective
- Naomi O’Reilly
- Adele Outteridge
- Mona Ryder
- Rose Rigley
- Glen Skien
- Doug Spowart
- Wim de Vos
THE ABBE ARTISTS BOOK FAIR
Artists Book Fair stallholders
Sara Bowen (no image taken)
Centre for Regional Arts Practice (Cooper+Spowart) (no image taken)
Robyn Foster (no image taken)
Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research (no image taken)
QCA Gold Coast (no image taken)
ABBE participants also visited Grahame Galleries, The Studio West End and the State Library of Queensland
ABBE was an initiative of the Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research and was coordinated by Dr Tim Mosely and Dr Lynden Stone.
All photographs © 2015 Doug Spowart
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar 2015
On June 20+21 the 2015 The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar took place at the State Library of Queensland. Attendees were presented with a one–day series of lectures, performances and a forum addressing the diversity of the artists’ book and importantly visual and creative research being undertaken by Fellowships supported by the Siganto Foundation.
The State Librarian Jeanette, introduced by MC Christene Drewe, spoke of the Library’s Artists’ Book Collection. This was followed by Dr Marie Siganto from the Siganto Foundation who spoke enthusiastically about the Foundation’s support of the Artists’ Book Collection.
A significant theme of this years’ event was based around the idea of artists’ books as performance. Brazilian artist, performer and academic Amir Brito Cadôr’s presented his keynote address The Book as Performance – he also performed a book reading of Momento Vital by Brazilian artist Vera Chaves Barcellos.
In the morning session 2015 Siganto Foundation Artists’ Books Fellows Clyde McGill and Julie Barratt presented progress reports on their research projects. Jan Davis discussed her 2014 Creative Fellowship and presented the completed artists’ book to the Library. The book was entitled Drawing on the ground and referenced the historical aspects of work and toil on Queensland farms. Reference material for Jan’s book came from diaries, books and documents held by the Library. Her artists’ book features text fragments and line sketches – the book was bound by Fred Pohlman and the cover was styled to resemble an old station journal.
As the 2014 Siganto Artists’ Books Research Fellow I presented an illustrated lecture on my experiences as a researcher of the Australian Library of Art, a selection of the range of books I encountered that employed photography from very minor references in text to conceptual pieces based on photographs. This list included:
Anne Wilson in, Tock 01-01-2000, 2000
Codex Event: Darren Bryant .. [et al.], Wild Cherry Tin Mine, 2006.
Vince Dziekian, Blooms Books, 1993-4.
Barbara Davidson, Different moods of the Opera House, 2001.
Felipe Ehrenberg, Generacion 1973
Peter Kingston, The Blue Mountains, 1987.
Michael Buhler, Oblique Lines, 19-.
William Copley Notes on a Project for a Dictionary of Rediculous Images, 1972.
Adam Broomberg + Oliver Chanarin, Holy Bible, 2013.
Judy Barrass, Eden-Monaro in Summer, 2001.
Juli Haas, The oyster book of lessons from the memory room, 2007.
Jihad Muhammad aka John Armstrong, Ten menhirs at Plouharnel, Carnac, Morbihan, Bretagne, France, 1982.
Angela Callanan, 7 Signs of Absence, 2010.
Susan King, Photo bio, 2011.
Malcolm Enright, Western Wisdom, 1998.
Pierre Cavalan, Artists Book, 1998.
Compiled by Kay Faulkner Indulge, 2006.
Debra Gibson, Kamikaze, 2004.
Dick Jewell, Found Photos, 1977.
Julie Barratt, Collateral damage, 2008.
Alison Knowles, Bread and Water, 2004.
David King, Raw deal, 1997.
Valerie Keenan HY1, 2001.
Tim Johnson, Fittings, 1972.
Christian Boltanski, Scratch, 2002.
Amanda Watson-Will, Judy and the Jacaranda, 2010.
Phillip Zimmerman, High tension, 1993.
Jan Davis, Solomon, 1995.
I then disclosed the principal research product the paper: The artists’ book, the photobook and the photo-a spectral approach, as well as recommendations to the Library for photobooks to be relocated from the General collection into places that reflected the significance of these books in the history of photography and the photobook. I also supplied Photobook Publishers and Info URLs that could be used by anyone wanting to keep up with new photobook releases an purchasing opportunities. I particularly noted that the Library held no Trent Parke books and provided, as an example, his book Dream Life that could have been purchased in 2000 for around $60 is now sold for $1,000+. Highlighting the need for the SLQ to be pro-active in purchasing contemporary book for modest outlay – rather than waiting until they are nearly unaffordable. I also highlighted the need for institutions to engage with and maintain links with artists’ book and photobook self-publishers as they exist outside of the usual publishing structures. I quoted Des Cowley, the State Library of Victoria’s History of the Book Manager from a statement made by him in his presentation at the ‘Other Photobook’ forum at Photobook Melbourne. He said:
… It is therefore incumbent upon staff in these institutions to build networks and relationships with the communities creating this work in order to be informed about what is being produced, and to ensure this material is acquired and preserved for future researchers.
My presentation concluded with two quotes from book artist and mail art aficionado Ulises Carrion that I felt related to the contemporary artists’ book and photobook. Carrion states:
I include books in the category of
living creatures … : they grow, reproduce, change colour, become ill and finally die.
At this moment we are witnessing the final stage of this process.
… if books are to survive they have to change. And [artists’] bookworks is the real possibility that books have for survival.
Schraenen, G. (1992). Ulises Carrion : We have won! Haven’t we?
HERE IS THE SLQ VIDEO OF THE SIGANTO FELLOW’S PRESENTATIONS
Other artists’ book performances included: Virginia and Julie Barratt’s The Morning After, one by Clyde McGill and a performance by QUT drama students of the three-part book Robert Bringhurst’s artist’s book New World Suite number three: a poem in four movements for three voices. The performers were Thomas Yaxley, Emily Weir and Meghan Clarke and was directed by QUT lecturer Floyd Kennedy.
The afternoon concluded with a forum moderated by Louise Martin-Chew on the topic of collaboration. The forum participants were Clyde McGill, Julie Barratt and Doug Spowart. Each participant discussed a project that involved collaboration and questions were posed by Louise to bring out important points from each panelist. The most interesting aspect of this forum was when questions from the floor created heated debate around the idea of the physical book and its experience verses the virtual online experience.
On Sunday many local and interstate stallholders presented their work for an Artists’ Book Fair in the Knowledge Walk at the SLQ. Tours of selected artists’ books from State Library’s Artists’ Book Collection were well attended and provide rare access to special books from the Australian Library of Art Collection. The two-day event was significant for the opportunity for artists’ book aficiandos, makers, collectors and readers to engage with the physicality of not only the books but also to touch with the extensive community of the book. Our thanks must go to the SLQ, particularly Christene Drewe and Helen Cole, and to the Dr Marie Siganto and the Siganto Foundation for their continued support of the artists’ book collection of the Australian Library of Art and events such as these. Doug Spowart
What follows are a range of images from the Seminar and Artists’ Book Fair
Presented by SLQ with the generous support of the Siganto Foundation. All photos and text ©2015 Doug Spowart