J. Hackson: MoUsTachE Chance Encounter
Clod Magazine is an irreverent, Dada-style, low-fi aesthetic magazine in the tradition of punk DIY publications. Established in 1987, its publishers describe their operation as ‘run like a badly-organised canteen, producing works on such hopelessly obscure subjects as freezer log books, haikus about Luton, and the contents of an old ‘Handy’ Bag Shop which enthralled Lutonians for aeons’. Occasionally they also produce books such as this one, MoUsTachE Chance Encounter. It’s a parody of the current trend for moustaches, rendered through visuals captured from TV programmes. Apart from being ridiculous fun, it’s admirable simply for the amount of time it must have taken to hit the mute button at exactly the right moment when the actors’ faces turned to camera.
Kevin Boniface: Round About Town
Kevin Boniface is an artist/writer based in Huddersfield. He’s also a postal worker and uses observations of what he sees on his delivery route as source material for zines, artists’ books and videos. Round About Town is the latest of his ongoing diaries recording both ordinary and extraordinary sights as he weaves through the streets delivering post. For example: ‘Monday, 6 September – In her garden on Hart Street, an old woman in a dressing gown empties a jug of custard onto her borders.’ Interspersed with black and white photographs by the artist, Round About Town is a wryly affectionate piece of social documentary, recording the banalities and absurdities of our daily lives. You can also keep up to date with his observations on Twitter.
Cathey Webb: Twenty Library Book Shelves
This boxed set of 20 booklets is the result of a residency by book artist Cathey Webb. Each one represents a shelf of Bower Ashton Library, Bristol, selected on a weekly basis by Webb who would then open each book on the shelf and choose a single word from it. These words were then arranged into a poem as an ode to the shelf. Inspired by Dada poet Hugo Ball and a found poetry workshop with artist Jeremy Dixon of Hazard Press, the project creatively celebrates the serendipity of discovering new material when browsing physical bookshelves in a library rather than using online catalogues. Each book is titled only with the shelf’s Dewey Decimal Code as its identifying source to encourage others to wander through the bookshelves themselves.
Franziska Brandt & Moritz Grünke: Riff Raff
Riff Raff is the latest book by the energetic, Berlin-based collaborative artist duo Franziska Brandt and Moritz Grünke, who publish zines and artists’ books as Gloria Glitzer. Between them they also run the Risograph printing and design studio We make it and Herbarium Riso, a library dedicated to Risograph printed artists’ publications. The pair frequently collaborate with artists and collectives including Greta Rusttt and Antoine Lefebvre of La Bibliotheque Fantastique to publish affordable, conceptual artists’ books. I particularly admire the way they visually and textually respond to works by artists such as Katarzyna Kobro and Roy Lichtenstein, and their infectious encouragement of DIY publishing.
Georgina Hounsome: Entangling
Published this summer after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Entangling is a 200-page narrative work exploring climate change and our relationship with nature. Artist/illustrator and co-founder of Pirrip Press, Georgina Hounsome has spent the last three years researching and drawing in the USA and Europe, influenced by her own childhood experiences in the landscape, becoming aware of how humans and nature have become fragile partners. Vibrant colours of the natural world are replaced here by a sober black and white palette which is ‘disrupted when other colours infiltrate and disturb it, such as fire, smoke, industry and development, human interaction and pollution’. In Entangling, Hounsome visually persuades us to contemplate the impact of our actions upon the natural world.
Amir Brito Cador: Uma história da leitura (A history of reading)
Brazilian artist Amir Brito Cador is known for his book tributes to other artists and their books, from his seminal A Night Visit to the Library (2013) to Learn to Read Art (2017). Uma história da leitura is a new narrative of reading within paintings, where the book becomes the object of our gaze. Each image is derived from painted portraits of St Jerome – the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopaedists. Here, however, it is the book held by St Jerome that becomes the focus, presenting a visual history of representations of reading through the ages.
Roelof Bakker: The Spots That Never Went
The poet Jeremy Dixon introduced me to this book at the Small Publishers Fair in London, having just purchased it from an exhibitor; the London-based Negative Press, founded by artist Roelof Bakker. It reminds me of the work of the writer Anne Tyler in that it draws you in to be part of something that you only gradually begin to understand is something too awful to comprehend, and then it is too late to unknow it. The Spots That Never Went is Bakker’s ‘personal reflection on the devastation of AIDS and the impact on a generation presented in tabloid and broadsheet newspaper format’. It’s a brutally simple, heartbreaking thing – we need to read more books like this.
Helen Stratford & Lawrence Bradby: The Day of the Duck
‘In a small Fenland city a challenge has rung out: TAKE BACK CONTROL OF OUR COUNTRY! In the wake of this vague divisive slogan things have gone uncannily quiet as difficult questions persist, unanswered.’ Enter the character of a small Muscovy duck, searching for his ‘disappeared’ brethren. On his mission to discover their whereabouts he searches the locale from riverbank to building sites, asking questions of the local populace (yes, he is a talking duck). The locals, it seems, are not particularly friendly to outsiders in their town. A narrative unfolds as to the mystery of the situation, but, like Brexit, it isn’t going to end well. The Day of the Duck proves to be a cautionary tale for our times.
Egidija Čiricaitė: Soft Snow
A founding member of Collective Investigations, artist Egidija Čiricaitė makes poignant, intricate books that explore the relationships between language and image, often in the context of the history of books themselves and our memories. For example, somewhere in the vastness of visible and invisible universe apple blossoms are falling (2018) is a gentle lament about death, typewritten onto Japanese paper. Soft Snow is her latest book, risograph printed and typewritten on translucent paper. The text flutters like snowflakes over the loose pages with their wintry mountain backdrop and dark pink sky, transforming the words of Soft Snow (1893) by William Blake into a Lithuanian translation of the poem by Lanis Breilis. It’s another beautiful example of Čiricaitė’s work and the perfect winter book.
Jeremy Dixon: COLLAGING KEN & JOE
Poet and artist Jeremy Dixon’s latest publication is a tribute to Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell’s London libraries subterfuge in the 1960s. The couple were arrested, imprisoned and fined for stealing and malicious damage to library books, having secretly removed, collaged into and returned them to the bookshelves. Their punishment was particularly harsh because of the homophobic attention surrounding their case. Dixon’s edition of 100 books, each with a unique collaged cover image, contains a found poem created from exhibition texts about the pair. And, in a fitting touch, the cover collages are all created from a copy of The Book of Knowledge (1958).
For more artists’ books, read Sarah Bodman’s column
1. J. Hackson, MoUsTachE, A Clod Magazine Chance Encounters Publication, 2018
2. Kevin Boniface, Round About Town, Uniformbooks, 2018. Photo: Uniformbooks
3. Cathey Webb, Twenty Library Book Shelves, 2018. Photo: Cathey Webb
4. Franziska Brandt & Moritz Grünke, Riff Raff, Gloria Glitzer, 2018. Photo: Gloria Glitzer
5. Georgina Hounsome, Entangling, 2018. Photo: Georgina Hounsome
6. Amir Brito Cador, Uma história da leitura (A history of reading), Andante Editions, 2018. Photo: Angie Butler
7. Roelof Bakker, The Spots That Never Went, Negative Press, 2018. Photo: Roelof Bakker
8. Helen Stratford & Lawrence Bradby, The Day of the Duck, Marmalade, Publishers of Visual Theory, 2018. Photo: Marmalade
9. Egidija Čiricaitė, Soft Snow, 2018. Photo: Egidija Čiricaitė
10. Jeremy Dixon, COLLAGING KEN & JOE, Hazard Press, 2018
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