Inside/Out at the Center for Book Arts

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday December 13, 2018

Self. Family. Memory. Loss. Displacement. Catastrophe. These are subjects of concern in the visual arts—perhaps never more so than today. As the planet degrades at an accelerating pace; as war, poverty, displacement, tribalism, nationalism and other such human catastrophes fail to be contained, photographers in particular make these subjects the focus of their work. And with increasing frequency, the self-published photobook is the locus of their presentation.

Inside/Out: Self, Family, Memory, Loss, Displacement, Catastrophe, an exhibition of self-published photobooks organized by Carole Naggar, poet, artist, curator, educator, and photography historian, is currently on view at the Center for Book Arts. Installed in the Center’s ravishing new main gallery, the chosen books illustrate very personal subjects such as family, memory, loss and identity as well as larger topics such as immigration, displacement and exile; and catastrophic events such as World War II, the AIDS epidemic, September 11 and Fukushima. A few are historical; most are contemporary. They originate from twenty countries: Argentina, Azerbadjian, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, The Netherlands,The Philippines, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Vietnam.

From the CBA announcement: The photographers and artists in this exhibition see the self-published photobook as a place of independence, a place where they can experiment freely with form, but, more importantly, as a testing ground for reflection, self-examination, meditation on ideas that the main market does little to accommodate. The quick turnaround from concept to creation also allows them to react to national and international news, making the books not only an aesthetic endeavor but also a political one. 

Self-published photobooks, such as the ones in this exhibition, provide the experience of looking at work the way the artist envisioned it. They become places for debating ideas, articulating insights and experience, and testing out new forms. Many are objects of beauty. And while it had been predicted that the rise of the Internet would mean the end of the book on paper, it has had an opposite effect in creating “digital fatigue,” as ephemeral images are everywhere. 

Readers still crave a hands-on experience and the concrete sensations associated with reading and looking. Makers have mined the seemingly limitless possibilities that lie within the art of the book. And this is what the Center for Book Arts has provided since its founding by book artist and master bookbinder Richard Minsky, in 1974.

Left: Ibidem, 2012, by Giovanni del Brenna. Info

Offering an extraordinary light-filled print shop and bindery; an enormous collection of art and objects (most of which can be handled); courses in all aspects of book-making and paper arts (including a certificate program); and public programming that touches on a broad array of topics, the Center is unique—and the first in the country to bring art of the book to public awareness. It must be stated that this writer has spent countless hours there, as a student, a volunteer, and a maker.

Inside/Out: Self, Family, Memory, Loss, Displacement, Catastrophe closes its run on Saturday, December 15th, 5 pm. The Center for Book Arts, 28 West 27th Street, FL 3, NY, NY Info 

Artists include: Olivia Arthur, Barbara Bash, Doug Beube, Julia Borissova, Machiel Botman, Chien Chi Chang, Cristina De Middel, Giovanni del Brenna, Michel Delsol, Eamonn Doyle, Carolyn Drake, Tina Enghoff, Veronica Fieiras, Claire Fouquet and Patty Smith, Lee Friedlander, Ralph Gibson, Hiroshi Hamaya, Simone Hoang, Ilkin Huseynov, Fumiko Imano, Miho Kajioka, Kent Klich, Anouk Kruithof, Susan Meiselas, Editha Mesina, Kazuma Obara, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Sophie Ristelhueber, Alec Soth, Jordan Sullivan, Peter Van Agtmael, Todd Walker, Mo Yi, and Ksenia Yurkova.

In addition to Inside/Out, The Center presents Cultivating Book and Land by Sally Alatolo and Celestial Bodiesby Monica Ong, both organized by Alexander Campos, former Executive Director & Curator for The Center for Book Arts.

Reminder: Consider entering the last DART Book Prize Contest of 2018! For a fun time and swell prizes for 2 [yes, you read it right!] winners,

By Peggy Roalf   Tuesday December 11, 2018

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday December 6, 2017

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday December 6, 2018

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