Book as Communicator: Life in the Folds, Carlos Amorales

‘Life in the Folds’ is an installation that seems to be filled with objects from an alien culture. Comprised of video, sculptural objects, works on paper and a publication, the common thread that links these pieces are strange glyphs, which appear to be a form of language.

The installation seems to be a hybrid between a traditional contemporary art exhibition and a museological display, as if we are seeing artefacts from a very different culture than our own.

The glyphs are represented in sculpture, as works on paper and in a newspaper-like publication. Without the newspaper, we might assume that the shapes are pictorial, but the conventions of the publication (from its structure, to its materials and layout), would lead us to believe that they are characters and a form of language.

An artwork like this needs time to sink in, and the pile of publications lying at the entrance to the gallery may be an invitation for us to sit down, paper in hand and immerse ourselves in the work.

Book as Domestic Object: Bread Encyclopedia, Maria Lai

Maria Lai, Bead Encyclopaedia. Artwork detail.
Maria Lai, Bread Encyclopaedia. Artwork detail.

If Lai’s work weren’t safely behind glass, one might expect the aroma of baking to fill the gallery. ‘Bread Encyclopedia’, as the name would suggest, is comprised of a series of books, bound in bread. Each volume is lettered and tied with a string, as if ready to carry. And although the work itself dates back to 2008, the books look freshly made.

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Book as Medium: E.I. CTY1, Anthony Cairns

Anthony Cairns EI CTY1 2018 - Exhibition
Anthony Cairns, ‘EI CTY1’, 2018 – Exhibition View. Documentation © Chris Gibson, 2018.

From a distance Anthony Cairns’ photographs look like small paper negatives suspended between thick panes of glass. The black and white images feature glimpses of cityscapes; fluorescent lights, architectural lines, empty urban spaces. These anonymous-looking places could be backwaters of any major city. The washed-out tones give a hazy feel, as if we are experiencing the city through a dream and image by image we build a picture of a sprawling place.

Anthony Cairns EI CTY1 2018 - Exhibition Detail
Anthony Cairns, ‘EI CTY1’, 2018 – Exhibition Detail. Documentation © Chris Gibson, 2018.

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Book as Post-Consumer Product: Studio (Supermarket), Hassan Sharif

The scene is like some strange mini-market stacked with objects, that through blurred vision at least, could resemble familiar, everyday goods. Shelves are filled with wrapped packages, bundled objects, rolls tied with strings. Among them are mini footballs, old containers, parts of machinery and even a book.

Hassan Sharif, Studio (Supermarket). Image: © Chris Gibson, 2017

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Book as Habitat: Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges, Carol Bove

A couple of years back I came across this beautiful artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Carol Bove as part of an exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute. Bove’s artwork was presented alongside that of Italian architect/sculptor Carlo Scarpa (who’s garden was home to Lee Mingwei’s artwork When Beauty Visits).

Carol Bove - Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
Carol Bove, ‘Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges’. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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Book as Remembrance: Various Book Paintings, Liu Ye

Liu Ye’s small, flat photo-realistic paintings are of books collected by the artists’ parents during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76). The books are often theory, text-books or works of literature – some of which (such as Nabokov’s Lolita) have political connotations.

Liu Ye - Book Paintings
Liu Ye – ‘Book Painting No. 10 Piet Mondrian Rot Gelb Blau Insel Taschenbuch 1995’, 2015. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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Book as Biography: The British Library, Yinka Shonibare

The British Library is a large and colourful artwork by Yinka Shonibare which comprises a huge collection of specially bound reclaimed books covered in vibrant Dutchwax fabric and embossed in gold with the names of notable British figures who were born outside the UK or have non-British ancestry.

Yinka Shonibare The British Library
Yinka Shonibare, ‘The British Library’ – book detail. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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