The Contained Narrative: Defining the Contemporary Artist’s Book

The Contained Narrative: Defining the Contemporary Artist’s Book
April 8 – July 26, 2015
MCBA Star Tribune Foundation Gallery

Presented in coordination with Book Art Biennial 2015
Closing reception Friday, July 24; 6-9pm as part of the Book Arts Art Crawl

At the most fundamental level, a book is a contained narrative. The container, that which holds the content, may be two covers connected by a spine on a traditional codex, a wrapper around a deck of cards, a box holding loose elements, a digital device, or even the walls of a room. In each of these permutations, the message of the artist, the narrative, is expressed within a finite space.

Within this context, the term “narrative” refers to content expressed sequentially. Much like films, books are time-based experiences. As readers, we are manipulated by the artist who controls pacing, recognition, associations, and comprehension through a multitude of methods. Images may be repeated, page configurations may change, text may be obscured, information may be hidden and slowly revealed, and we may be forced to physically engage with a work beyond the simple act of turning a page. In all cases, this intimate relationship between the artist and the reader amplifies the communicative power of this unique art form.

Using an expansive definition of “book” is essential when examining and discussing contemporary artists’ books. As a multidisciplinary and interactive art form, books continue to evolve as artists challenge formal conventions and explore new methods of communication. This is not to say that all book artists have abandoned tradition. The book arts ¬- printing, binding, papermaking, typography and graphic design – continue to thrive. The use of traditional methods to communicate contemporary content can be both powerful and engaging. And when new means of expression are combined with strong craftsmanship, the impact of artist’s books, in all their derivations, increases exponentially.

While their interdisciplinary underpinnings and dynamic nature make it challenging, a closer examination of artists’ books is facilitated by classification. Several broad categories emerge: the book bound and unbound; the book as object, the book as metaphor; the book as environment; environment as book; the virtual book; the book as score and performance; and the book as community and collaboration.

This exhibition is curated by Cathy Ryan and presented in coordination with Book Art Biennial 2015.

MCBA sincerely thanks exhibition sponsors Daily Printing Inc. and Neenah Paper.

Featured artists:

The Book, Bound and Unbound
Sally Alatalo (Chicago, IL)
Laurie Alpert (Milton, MA)
Sandra Brownlee (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Macy Chadwick and Lisa Onstad (Oakland, CA)
Julie Chen (Berkeley, CA) and Clifton Meador (Boone, NC)
Jim Dine (Walla Walla, WA), published by Steidl
Dianna Frid (Chicago, IL)
Mario Giacomelli (Senigallia, Italy)
Karen Hanmer (Glenview, IL)
Charles Hobson (San Francisco, CA)
Ronald King (West Suffolk, England) with Richard Price
Karen Kunc (Lincoln, NE)
Sara MacKillop (London, England)
Steven McCarthy (Falcon Heights, MN)
Tim Mosely (Queensland, Australia)
Jonathan Safran Foer (Brooklyn, NY): Tree of Codes, 2010, published by Visual Editions, design by Sara De Bondt Studio and Jon Gray; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, 2005, published by Mariner, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin
Gaylord Schanilec (Stockholm, WI) with Ben Verhoeven, Scott King, Julia Hinderlie and Jim Heynen
Veronica Schapers (Berlin, Germany)
Julie Shaw Lutts (Salem, MA)
Robbin Ami Silverberg (Brooklyn, NY)
Jody Williams (Minneapolis, MN)

The Virtual Book
Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse (Seattle, WA)
William Kentridge (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Tate Shaw (Rochester, NY)
Julie Shaw Lutts (Salem, MA)

The Book as Environment / Environment as Book:
Susan Collard (Portland, OR)
Melissa Jay Craig (Chicago, IL)
Vesna Kittelson (Minneapolis, MN)
Barbara Kruger (New York, NY)
Richard McGuire (New York, NY)
Bridget O’Malley (Minneapolis, MN)
Carol Schwartzott (Ithaca, NY)
Julie Sirek (Edina, MN)
Lawrence Weiner (New York, NY)
Philip Zimmermann (Tucson, AZ)

The Book as Metaphor
Jeffrey Altepeter (Cambridge, MA)
Daniel Essig (Ashville, NC)
Scott McCarney (Rochester, NY)
Rachel Melis (Saint Cloud, MN)
Wilber H. Schilling (Minneapolis, MN) with Rick Moody and Daniel E. Kelm

The Book as Object
Jody Alexander (Santa Cruz, CA)
Doug Beube (Brooklyn, NY)
Tom Cassidy ((Minneapolis, MN) and John M. Bennett (Cleveland, OH)
Julie Chen (Berkely, CA)
Guylaine Couture (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Adele Crawford (Oakland, CA)
Erik and Martin Demaine (Cambridge, MA)
Brian Dettmer (Brooklyn, NY)
Amara Hark-Weber (St. Paul, MN)
Daniel E. Kelm (Easthampton, MA) with Taz Sibley, Gretta D. Sibley, Kylin Lee,
Meg Sanders, Michael Richardson, Amy Grigg, Barry Spence and J. Doster
Odine Lang (Aachen, Germany)
Janis R. Nedela (North Fremantle, Australia)
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen (White Bear Lake, MN)
Karen Wirth (Minneapolis, MN)

The Book as Score and Performance
Ronald King (West Suffolk, England)
Hilke Kurzke (Nottingham, England)
Rick Myers (Easthampton, MA)
Keith Smith (Rochester, NY)

The Book as Collaboration and Community
Harriet Bart (Minneapolis, MN) with Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne;
Aaron Cohick / New Lights Press (Colorado Springs, CO), with TC Tolbert, Jen Hofer, j/j hastain, Noel Black, Mathias Svalina, Divya Victor, Alexis Almeida, Oren Silverman, Sara Renee Marshall, Julia Drescher and CJ Martin;
Coracle Press (Ballybeg, Ireland) with Simon Cutts, Erica Van Horn, John Bevis and Jason Clark;
Amanda Degener (Minneapolis, MN) with Stuart Kestenbaum and Jan Owen;
David Dellafiora (Victoria, Australia) with Carule Baker, Tiziana Baracchi, Vittore Baroni, Horst Baur, John M. Bennett, JF Chapelle, Piet Franzen, Antonio Gomez, Magda Lagerwerf, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Leo Morrissey, Andrew Maximilian Niss, Paul Ramsey, Lubomyr Tymkiv, TICTAC, Bart Verburg, Daniele Virgilio, Reid Wood, Reid Altimus, Emilio Carrasco, JF Chapelle, Nieves Garcia Barragan, Rob Grant, Serse Luigetti, Ruggero Maggi, Cheryl Penn, Sue Vallance, Alwina, Joaquin Gomez, Uli Grohmann, Susan Hartigan, Peter Muller, Kotun Viktor, Daniele Virgilio, Duke Fitzwilliam, Peter Kingston, Miche-Art-Universalis, RF Cote, Helen Amyes, Siggi Liersch, Jurgen O. Olbrich, Katerina Nikoltsou, Giovanni Strada, Torill Elisabeth Larsen, Miguel Jimenez, Laura Dunn, Otto David Sherman, Vizma Bruns, Carina Granlund, Schoko Casana Rosso, Marisa Pezzoli, Torill Elisabeth Larsen, Jose L. Campal, Lucy Godycki, Diane Bertrand, Kerosene, Adam Gray, Marianne Midelburg, Jack Oudyn, Bruno Sourdin, Albin Wallace, Helen Amyes, Robyn Fry, Teresa Lawrence, Ute Mescher, Antonio Moreno Garrido, Rebecca Herriman, Chris Simpson, Zoe Snyder and Angela Behrendt;
Little Brown Mushroom (St. Paul, MN) with Alec Soth, Charlie White, Stephanie Ford, Brad Zellar, Jason Polan, Lester B. Morrison and Hans Seeger;
Minnesota Center for Book Arts (Minneapolis, MN): Ice Walk with Judith Guest, Michael Lizama, Mary Jo Pauly, Jana Pullman, Jill Jevne, Jeff Rathermel, Charles Cohan, Phyllis McGibbon, Jeffrey Morin, Jack Molloy, Katherine Ng, Bonnie O’Connel, Dennis Ruud, Champe Smith, and Barbara Tetenbaum; vispoeologee with John M. Bennett, Thomas Cassidy, Scott Helmes, Jeff Rathermel, Monica Edwards Larson, Allison Chapman, Bob Grumman, Carol Stetser, Nico Vassilakis, Jim Leftwich, C. Mehrl Bennett, Serge Segay, Mathew Rucker, Jack Kronebusch, Hartmut Andryczuk, Michael Peters, Michael Basinski, Rea Nikonova, buZ blurr, Ficus Strangulenis, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Wendy Collin Sorin, Sheila E. Murphy, Philip Gallo, Carlos M. Luis, Harriet Bart, Jeff Thompson, Geof Huth, K.S. Ernst and Richard Kostelanetz;
Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring (Tacoma, WA);
Regula Russelle (St. Paul, MN) and CB Sherlock (Minneapolis, MN) with Meghan Maloney-Vinz, Jim Moore, Ilze Klavina Mueller, William Stafford, and Joyce Sutphen;
Richard Stephens (St. Louis Park, MN) with John Coy and Cave Paper;
Shift-lab Collective: Katie Baldwin (Huntsville, AL), Denise Bookwalter (Tallahassee, FL), Sarah Bryant (Brighton, England), Macy Chadwick (Oakland, CA) and Tricia Treacy (Boone, NC);
Marcus Young (St. Paul, MN) with Saint Paul Public Works, Public Art Saint Paul and contributions from St. Paul poets