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Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)


Are you a masochist? How's this:

"Artists book" is a [controversial term given to] book or book-like object
in which the primary interest, or emphasis, is visual rather than textual.

You could go on to say that the controversy arises out of the fact that
some feel strongly that a book, to be considered a book, must behave in all
respects like a book. Otherwise it's not a book but something else, such as
sculpture. There is also some confusion having to do with the fact that
artists (ie: usually visual artists who have made their reputation in
fields not associated with the book) have, in the past, decorated books, or
even created books which have been called artists books while remaining
fairly traditional in concept. We also have "book artists" who sometimes
create visually beautiful, or conceptually rich works which still are
recognizable without question as books. The problem (for the purists),
however, is when a work is created which ignores -- or defies -- one or
more aspects of the traditional book, such as the pages being glued,
nailed, or otherwise fastened together so that the book will not open, or
conversely -- as in the forthcoming Art of the Book '98 exhibition
organized by CBBAG -- where a work consists of a series of "pages" strung
on a line with closepins rather than being "bound" in the traditional sense.

I have no doubt that, in time, the controversy will abate when people
realize that objects (or sculpture) which have been inspired by, or heavily
influenced by "the fetish-object known as book" (to quote Stan Bevington),
can be considered "artists books" even though they don't conform in all
respects to some ten-point checklist of what makes a traditional book.

Humbly submitted (ie: my two cents worth),

Richard Miller <rmiller@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website:

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