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[BKARTS] WOID #X-33. Review: No Better Than They Should Be

Florence Boré: Théâtre de livres
Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris
22 rue Malher, Paris
Through January 18

Beware what you ask for  you may get it. A favorite kvetch among book artists is the difficulty of showing their work, for instance how to allow the visitor to handle the book without damaging it. Florence Boré tackles the problem as a window-dresser would: the bound books hes chosen are very fine indeed, but theyre used like props. One book is displayed on top of a mannequin covered in paper roses. Another, of small etched glass panels, is displayed on a bed of glass beads, under dramatic green lighting. The joke is, its title is Vert sur verre. 

So the curator is trying to solve a simple problem: getting the gist of the content of the book and its binding. In a number of instances there are glossy art photos of the inside of the books on the walls; and most displays include an extract of the text. And I would say its a triumph of style over substance, except that it works so well. 

And it works so well, I suspect, because so many art bindings set out to do exactly what the curator does: comment upon. They, too, tend to be triumphs of style over substance, and if anything one ends up grateful that the lighting, here, and the choices, soften the hard edges of the bindings and most often relieve them of the burden of making some kind of sense: they return to their role as mere accessories.

By books-as-art this may be the worst one can do. By books-as-luxury-objects it may be the best. The problem is, its sometimes hard to tell the two apart.

Paul T Werner, New York

WOID: A journal of visual language

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