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Re: [BKARTS] Books without Words

In a message dated 1/9/04 1:48:16 PM, apeiron@xxxxxxxxxxxx writes:

<< There is no reason why some artist can not make books

without words and declare them art, but that does not justify

a general attack on artists who do employ language,

or on language itself, or on the value of critical thought..

This seems particularly true when such attacks

can only be conveyed by means of language and critical thought.


I find it interesting that Michael focuses on the possible exclusion of book
artists who use text or written language in their artist books, when my
experience of this discussion is completely the opposite. That is, much of the
discussion seems to me to have been an exclusion, dismissal or downright derision
of those book artists who work primarily, if not exclusively, in visual

This has been an ongoing argument among those who are involved in all aspects
of book arts. For some reason I have yet to discern, there seems to be a fear
that if all types of work are included under the umbrella "book arts" that
the entire field is thereby diminished. The need to define the field is, I
believe, the purview of art historians and critics (and for their own purposes, I
might add). The artists I know who are working in this and other art fields are
simply involved in the pursuit of an interesting, versatile, imaginative,
receptive and seductive exploration with any and all means at their disposal.
Some believe it is the journey, or process, that informs what we do, rather than
the purposes to which our products may be later put (by critics, historians,
collectors, marketers, etc.).

I have long noted this basic difference between what I see as two extremes.
On the one hand, those who craft in letterpress and fine binding what they see
as important texts, perhaps with the addition of original illustrations, and
on the other those who are using the text and images of their own experiences
to create something perhaps as yet unnamed or unnamable. The first group wants
to create sometimes narrow perimeters that define book arts, including those
things they themselves do and excluding more experimental works. The second
group, mostly, doesn't understand why it is an issue, as art is art, whatever
form it takes.

While we do need to educate people about the form generally in order to
develop an audience for what we do, is it necessary to define it narrowly? Those
who have purchased my books don't seem to have issues with my definition of them
as books, even though most of my books are both without text and
one-of-a-kind. Barbara Harman

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