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Book as Element: Various Book Works, Michelle Stuart

Michelle Stuart, various works. Image credit: Chris Gibson, 2018
Michelle Stuart, various works. Image credit: Chris Gibson, 2018

Stuart’s beautiful sculptures look as if they have been excavated from the ground. The folded concrete from some building site, the stacked dusty-brown layers from a desert floor.

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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.

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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 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

Sharif’s works are described as sculptures and it’s clear that thought has gone into each and every object of display, whether the raw materials (the original found objects and post-consumer waste) have been altered significantly or not. It’s no coincidence that we think of a supermarket when we look at the work.

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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 Meat: Various Works, John Latham

British conceptual artist John Latham (1921-2006) is an intriguing artist who frequently worked with books, producing provocative sculptural artworks, works that are attractive from a distance, but uncomfortable and brutal up close.

John Latham - Various Works
John Latham – Various Works. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

On canvas and in sculptural form Latham layers materials; wires, mesh, plaster, paint all wrestle on canvas – into this mix are thrown books. Latham’s books are hacked at, carved up, coloured (reds, yellows, brown/black) and splayed open, held by the wires which curl round them like tendrills. These rounded, chopped up, tinged pieces of book are meat-like.

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Book as Relic: Janus Code, Michele Ciacciofera

Michele Ciacciofera’s installation Janus Code (2016-17) is a collection of artefacts that resembles a dreamlike museum exhibit. Apart from the occasional concrete items (a butterfly, seeds, a stone), many are handmade, created with unexpected materials to resemble familiar-looking objects and displayed like anthropological specimens.

Michele Ciacciofera - Janus Code
Michele Ciacciofera – Janus Code. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The motif of the book reoccurs again and again; we see book-like sculptures wrapped in wool, page-like panels of a dyptich and open volumes containing seemingly-symbolic relics.

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Book as Anchor: Dapunta Hyang – Transmission of Knowledge, Zai Kuning

A structure floats; the majestic hull of some dream ship. It’s huge, but nearing on the intangible. This is not quite the ghost-like art of Do-ho Suh’s, but evokes a similar feeling; the concrete-turned-transparent. This fragile tableaux is a combination of simple elements brought together to create a striking work.

Zai Kuning - Dapunta Hyang
Installation View. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

Weighing this structure down are stones, tied with red strings. At the edges are piles of books (sealed, made untouchable, waterproofed with wax), also with red strings. Were they anchors too?

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