| Artists’ Books Exhibitions
at the School of Creative Arts, Department of Art and Design
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
The Photocopy vs. the Bound
Special Collections Room, Bower Ashton Library
3rd - 30th November 2009
The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity - Walter Benjamin, 1936
When Benjamin wrote this he was talking about the way in which new technologies at the turn of the century were enabling people to reproduce works of art on mass scale. What I find interesting about this statement is him saying that a work of arts’ authenticity can only come from the original. What happens when that ‘original’ is then taken away? What is the ‘original’?
The Photocopy vs. the Bound
Photocopies can cause something to happen. Photocopy works can take on the accessible book form as well as the discardable advertising leaflet. Books tend to feel precious, but at what point can an artists’ book made from photocopies change from the throw-away booklet to the item that becomes so precious?
A photocopy has an ephemeral quality which can somehow make it prized, more so than a mass produced bound book. Quickly, cheaply made in comparison with the bound book these photocopy books bring ideas and images straight from the artist to the viewer, but also create in themselves an art object. These photocopy books are one offs, or at least small editions or multiples, this makes them an intimate space for the artist to communicate to the viewer without the need for a 3D galley; a home to home service from artist studio to a viewers coffee table or cosy library corner.
When the photocopies are made, the studio experiments, the drawings that appear in sketchbooks and the documentation of previous works of art are arranged onto the bed of the photocopier in a new composition, this is then copied creating another ‘original’.
My artists’ books practice feeds off all other areas of my creative life. My practice centres on the everyday, ranging from sculptures and artists’ books to interventions and installations. I catalogue the documentation of my own work, sometimes obsessively, sometimes intermittently, recording the pieces in any media possible or suitable; this in turn is used as part of future pieces of work. This referencing within my own practice is something that brings different aspects of my thinking together and lets them feed off each other.
Recently my practice has been influenced by my day job in a library. Stamping, shelving, archiving, microfilm reading & photocopying are but a few processes that occur in the library from day to day. These processes are seeping into my practice, most noticeably in my book works. Collecting processes and skills as if they were items and putting them on display like treasure.
To find out more about my work please visit my website: www.abigailthomas.co.uk