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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 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

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Book as Source: All Images From a Book…, Ciprian Muresan

The Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan uses books as a resource, sketching a copy of every image in a particular book on to one sheet of paper. His source material comprises seemingly image-laden artists monographs or studies.

Ciprian Muresan – All Images From a Book… series. 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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Book as Gift: When Beauty Visits, Lee Mingwei

Let me start with a caveat: the object of exchange in Lee Mingwei’s artwork isn’t strictly a book, it’s an envelope containing a story. I wanted to discuss it though because the artwork itself is irresistible.

Documentation of performance 'When Beauty Visits' by artist Lee Mingwei
Lee Mingwei – detail of performance ‘When Beauty Visits’, 2017. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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Book as Bibliography: Valises, Raymond Hains

The artist Raymond Hains plays an interesting game with us in his artwork Valises; an installation which comprises a utilitarian metal shelving system stacked with box files, metal Airbus cases and plastic packing crates filled with books and index cards.

Valises, Raymond Hains. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017
Valises, Raymond Hains – Installation View. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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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

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Book as Timekeeper: Aqua Alta, Michel Blazy

Michel Blazy‘s Aqua Alta was displayed at the 2017 Venice BiennaleAt first sight the work looks like a neat stack of pristine books. On closer inspection they better resemble catalogues or fashion magazines. In actual fact they are anonymous leaflets, featuring scenes which appear to relate to Venice. Looking even closer one can see ridges and channels cut into the paper, like a small landscape of canyons and valleys.

Michel Blazy, Aqua Alta, 2017
Michel Blazy, Aqua Alta, 2017. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

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