Bookwork: Medium to Object to Concept to Art by Garrett Stewart

By Garrett Stewart

“There they leisure, inert, impertinent, in gallery space—those e-book types both imitated or mutilated, replicas of examining topic or its vestiges. unusual, after its lengthy and strong profession, for the e-book to take early retirement in a museum, no longer as infrequent manuscript yet as functionless sculpture. Readymade or developed, such ebook shapes are canceled as textual content while deposited as gallery items, close off from their basic examining while now not, in a few but extra drastic means, dismembered or reassembled.” So starts off Bookwork, which follows our ardour for books to its logical severe in artists who hire discovered or simulated books as a sculptural medium. Investigating the conceptual exertions at the back of this proliferating foreign paintings perform, Garrett Stewart appears to be like at 1000s of book-like gadgets, by myself or as a part of gallery installations, during this unique account of works that strength recognition upon a book’s fabric id and cultural resonance.

Less an inquiry into the artist’s publication than an exploration of the ebook form’s modern objecthood, Stewart’s interdisciplinary strategy strains the lineage of those competitive artifacts from the 1919 unsatisfied Readymade of Marcel Duchamp all the way down to the present obstacle of paper-based media within the electronic period. Bookwork surveys and illustrates a gorgeous number of appropriated and fabricated books alike, starting from hacksawed discards to the large lead folios of Anselm Kiefer. The unreadable books Stewart engages with during this well timed examine are stumbled on, many times, to generate photograph metaphors for the textual adventure they restrict, turning into during this experience legible after all.

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Entirely removed in between these iso­lated, Thus “cutting” not only into but between photo-duplicated forms, their recessed pages, and with the adapted books them- stacking produces a new sculptural “monu- selves mounted on the wall across from the ment” in a crowded bas-relief all its own. three rapid-fire projections, Dettmer’s race In work of this sort, the found book, once through The Chronicle of the 20th Century adopted from the archive of print circula- is summed up in its speed and deletions, at tion, is then “adapted” to some new proto- the lexical as well as paginal level, under col of museum display.

Despite their taciturnity or decipherment in the coils of response. Seen extravagance, these wordless vessels of in this way, book-works work by negating effaced mediation do for this reason regu- one kind of reading by another. As if in a larly induce, at least for this viewer, and in direct reversal of the poststructuralist this I certainly can’t be alone, an uncanny translation of literary work into text, book- sense of déjà vu. We see before us in such works submerge text to artwork in order to executed bookwork, whether insinuated or figure the contours of a page’s normative blatantly travestied, what we always half but now-aborted function.

The vorite novel, I don’t as a rule have a particu- answer: it is one way of studying their ma- lar volume or edition in mind. When sculp- terial preconditions, and this in the absence tural bookwork takes any such volume or chapter one edition, single or multiple, out of reading’s even with no typeface visible, study their line of sight, retiring or actually defacing it, own prototypes in the actual book. 8 this action may leave the textual system of This is the thing about the book-work that book, even if presently uninstanced, in as a nontextual thing.

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